Adelson hires another lobbyist as land-based casinos continue their mind games

adelson-connie-mack-lobbyingLas Vegas Sands boss Sheldon Adelson (pictured near right) has added another former Washington politician to his Anti-Online Gambling Avengers Assemble pantheon. Connie Mack IV (pictured far right), a former Republican member of the House of Representatives for Florida’s 14th district, has taken Adelson’s 30 pieces of silver in exchange for tackling “federal policy issues related to internet gaming.” Ironically, Mack is the ex-husband of Mary Bono, a former GOP House member for California and current pro-online gambling lobbyist for the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (C4COP).

Adelson maintains that his objection to online gambling is based on his belief that it’s exponentially more addictive than its land-based counterpart. Cameron Tung, a contributor to The Atlantic, recently wrote a piece comparing the psychological effects of gambling at home via one’s computer and gambling in one of two types of brick-and-mortar casino environments, in which he noted that brick-and-mortar casinos are restyling their environment for the sole purpose of encouraging gamblers to bet more and more often. (Cue ‘Shocked… Shocked!’ outbursts.)

A 2006 study by the University of Guelph compared two competing models of casino floor design: the old Bill Friedman maze-like model that insisted on the gambling equipment being the dominant decorative feature, with all other décor elements serving to highlight the equipment layout, versus the increasingly popular Roger Thomas ‘adult playground’ model, which emphasizes warm colors, lots of light, water installations and excellent way-finding.

Guelph professor Karen Finlay told the New Yorker that gamblers in ‘playground’ casinos “stay longer, feel better and bet more. Although they come away with bigger losses, they’re more likely to return.” In simulations featuring 3D high-definition video of different types of casinos, Finlay found that playground casinos had a particularly marked effect on people who ordinarily didn’t gamble, in part because the environment didn’t feel like a casino. The New Yorker described it as “a kind of anesthesia, distracting people from the pain of their inevitable losses.”

Meanwhile, Tung suggested the player at home gambling on his laptop enjoyed none of the playground casino niceties, settling instead for being “wholly engulfed in a chaotic world crowded by my flashing LCD monitor, frantically beeping game alerts and the distractions of myriad open Internet tabs.” Perhaps Tung should try letting the kitchen tap run all night in order to simulate a water installation…

Given that the most fervent adopter of the Thomas-designed playground casino model has been Wynn Resorts, which is run by Adelson’s BFF Steve Wynn, we eagerly await Adelson’s condemnation of Steve’s willingness to deploy such cynical psy-ops in order to prey on the vulnerable for no better reason than profit. Waiting… Still waiting…