The last week’s attack on internet gambling by Sheldon Adelson, the owner of Las Vegas Sands, prompted a number of prominent industry figures to comment on his statements regarding online gambling and its impact on society.
ABC News published an extensive article based on the opinions of California attorney Martin D. Owens and Professor Nelson Rose from Whittier Law School, as well as Poker Players Alliance director John Pappas.
Owens assessed the Adelson accusations as "preposterous" and "...a very belated and unimaginative rear-guard action," as internet gambling has been already in place in the US, with 32 states sanctioning it for horse betting.
Further commenting on the online gambling worldwide, Owens said that it is a $30 billion phenomenon, out of which online poker accounts for $15 billion worldwide. He added that little less than half- or about $6 billion – comes from US.
As Europe sees a decrease in land casino attendance due to online gambling popularity, Owens explains the reasons behind it: young people now tend to do everything online, including gamble. If the young aren't visiting brick and mortar casinos, it should not come as a shock: "Nobody drives an Oldsmobile anymore, either," Owens said.
Owens also mentioned the Harvard Medical School study on problem gambling, which showed that the vast majority of online gamers play in a very moderate manner, spending minimal amounts on gaming, thus refuting Adelson's claim that online gambling was more dangerous.
Similar comments were voiced by Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas: "I think he's missed the mark by a wide margin. The reality is that licensed and regulated internet poker is taking place worldwide and right here in America and right here in his back yard of Nevada.”
Pappas went on to say: “All of the perceived evils have been addressed through appropriate oversight - greater oversight and regulation than what's available in a brick-and-mortar setting. Age-verification? Protecting problem gamblers? Those can be addressed on the Internet even better than in one of Mr. Adelson's casinos."
Referring to the possibility of tracking online every action by every player in real time, Pappas called it "a regulator's dream."
As for Adelson's quoting an unidentified European study on online gambling, neither Pappas nor anybody else contacted by ABC News was able to identify the study to which Adelson referred.
Explaining that majority of land casinos perceive internet gambling as a complementary offering, Pappas said: "only those who have trouble understanding how to use the Internet would miss the opportunity to bring customers into their casinos via that channel."
The ABC News article also reports on the widespread anger within the industry and player communities caused by Adelson's words, which include even calls for a boycott against his business interests.
“Nothing's being organized by us; but yes, we've heard, certainly, from plenty of outraged players. The fervor has increased since last week, with some saying they will never play the Venetian again," Pappas said.
However, Pappas concluded that poker is not a big profit centre for the Adelson interests and never has been: "It's an attraction to bring in a type of customer who will then go on to play the slot machines or the craps table or the sports book."