Sheldon Adelson Ensures that Senate Spending Bill Targets Online Gambling

American gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation that owns many properties in the US, Singapore, and Macau including Las Vegas based Venetian and Palazzo casinos, is continuing his sustained campaign to prevent online gambling from being legalised in the United States. The 83 year old billionaire who is listed as one of the top 20 people in the world has long been pulling every string possible to ensure that the immensely popular internet gambling industry doesn’t get a toe hold in the United States.

There are growing calls to make online gambling legal in the United States since this industry is well-regulated and flourishing in many different countries. As a matter of fact, many Americans opt to play poker, casino games, and slots at online casinos operating from different jurisdictions outside the country. Governments of various states in the US have a problem with their residents gambling on poker sites or playing games like Tiki Island slot on unregulated sites since this is an illegal activity. Furthermore, state governments are losing out on taxes from these activities. While the federal government has banned internet gambling in all but a few states, some states are trying to legalize it to various extents.

Adelson’s latest blow against the online gambling industry came when he managed to get Senator Lindsey Graham (R) from South Carolina to add anti-gambling flavour to a bill placed before the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Appropriations Bill (S.2837) language that sets it firmly against internet based gambling. In fact, the line in the bill resembles the ill fated Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) that would have ensured that internet gambling became illegal throughout the US. Interestingly, Adelson was one of the driving forces behind RAWA.

The purpose of including the line against online betting is to highlight the fact that the existing Wire Act is set firmly against legalizing it. The position taken is that since the Wire Act hasn’t been amended or repealed as of now, online gambling should be illegal throughout the country irrespective of laws passed by individual states to legalize it wholly or in parts. Graham and Adelson maintain that the legality of internet betting in the US should be decided by the judicial system and not the individual governments of the states.

Adelson and Graham have an association that goes back a long time and the Senator’s anti-gambling stance has a lot to do with the support he receives from the billionaire. In fact, Adelson was one of the main supporters for Graham’s unsuccessful bid for the White House.

S.2837 is unlikely to make it past the House Appropriations Committee in its current form. Rep. John Culbertson might get the line removed from the bill before it is sent to the President of the United States to be signed into law. While Culbertson hasn’t made any statements regarding this issue, it seems very unlikely that any law will be passed that bans internet gambling throughout the country.

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