Sheldon Adelson's first campaign against online gambling in the new year achieved only moderate success.
The Las Vegas Sands CEO's Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling only managed to get 15 state attorney generals to sign a letter to leaders of Congress requesting that the Wire Act be amended to prohibit all forms of Internet gambling, including poker. Adelson must have at least hoped to get the majority 26 signers necessary to make the position an official National Association of Attorney Generals policy and use the organization's letterhead. Instead, the letter went out Feb. 4 on plain paper.
In comparison, more than 40 AGs signed letters opposing Internet gambling twice previously over the past eight years.
"We like to look at it as 35 attorney generals rejected it," said John Pappas, executive director of Poker Players Alliance. "I think we've come a long way. Many of the 15 are from small states without a lot of clout, and I'm certain these 15 will all be looking to Sheldon Adelson for some sort of support down the road."
The PPA led an aggressive campaign urging players to reach out to their state's attorney general through social media, phone calls and e-mails to request that they did not sign the letter. However, attorney generals from three of the nine most populous states in the country did sign the letter — Greg Abbott of Texas, Pamela Jo Bondi of Florida and Bill Schuette of Michigan.
Most of the other signers were from the bottom 20 states in population. They were Chris Koster of Missouri, Jon Bruning of Nebraska, Alan Wilson of South Carolina, Tom Horne of Arizona, David Louie of Hawaii, Tim Fox of Montana, Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, Marty Jackley of South Dakota, Peter Michael of Wyoming, Derek Schmidt of Kansas, Sean Reyes of Utah and William Sorrell of Vermont .
Coming up short in the battle doesn't mean that Adelson and the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is giving up the war. This week, the coalition released its first television commercial in opposition to online gambling.
In typical Adelson fashion, it goes overboard on the scare tactics, claiming that online poker could allow al Qaeda to extract enough untraceable money from the United States in just a few days to fund several 9/11-sized attacks. It continues in asking: "Why make it easier for organized crime and terrorist groups to operate in the U.S. and threaten the safety of law-abiding citizens?"
Also this week, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling called on the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a bill that would establish criminal penalties for individuals who participate in online gambling.
Photo courtesy of Media Salon