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September 16, 2014

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Adelson against online gambling because risk of underage players

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Kin Cheung / AP

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is against online gambling because he doesn’t believe young people can be prevented from making wagers, a spokesman said Wednesday. Adelson is shown here at a news conference for the opening of the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Aug. 28, 2007.

Sheldon Adelson, the world's richest casino executive and chief of the industry's largest publicly traded company, says he opposes online gambling because he doesn't believe available technology is good enough to prevent young people from making wagers on the Internet, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Adelson's opposition is a personal viewpoint, not a formal stance taken by the company that runs casino-resorts in Las Vegas, Macau, Singapore and Bethlehem, Pa., Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said.

Reese says Adelson hasn't talked with the company's board about his position, and the board hasn't formally decided a strategy on online gambling.

"It's a personal observation of concerns about technology," Reese said.

The opposition comes as other operators, including Caesars Entertainment Corp. and MGM Resorts International, have backed an industry push to legalize online poker and let established casinos offer it in the United States. Poker, which involves elements of skill and luck, has been illegal online for real money since a 2006 law forbade operators from running games by preventing financial institutions from processing funds for most online wagering.

The casino industry has never had consensus on what it wants, but its top lobby has moved from a neutral stance to actively pursuing federal legislation that would allow for legalization and regulation of online poker.

Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the American Gaming Association, said he met with Adelson on Monday and Adelson told him he'll oppose legislation to legalize online poker in the United States.

"Sheldon has long had concerns about this issue, and it is perfectly within his right to make this decision," Fahrenkopf said in a statement. "However, the AGA, at the direction of our board of directors, will continue to support federal legislation to allow states to license and regulate online poker."

The industry is not seeking to legalize other games like craps, blackjack and slots online. Those games are different because players wager against the house. In poker, players wager against each other and operators take a fee from each pot in exchange for hosting the game.

The issue of online poker has heated up among players and casino executives in the past 12 months. U.S. Senate Majority Leader last year touted a plan to legalize poker that fell short without legislation being introduced. In April, three top online operators who offered online poker in defiance of the law had their sites seized and executives indicted by the U.S. Justice Department, accused of financial crimes including fraud and money laundering for disguising payments for gambling funds as transactions for things like flowers and golf balls.

After the indictments, the estimated $6 billion U.S. online poker market essentially crumbled overnight, leaving many players unable to access funds in online poker bankrolls.

With the top poker websites out of the country, the casino association became more vocal in urging lawmakers to close loopholes and craft better regulations.

Fahrenkopf said the association wants federal legislation that allows states to decide whether to offer poker to its residents, keeps kids from gambling online and lets law enforcement shut down illegal operators.

AP Entertainment Writer Lynn Elber contributed to this report, which contains biographical material written by former AP staffer Cadonna M. Peyton.

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  1. I think he is right. But I also think that online gambling will be tough to regulate. It will also create problems for those that can not control their gambling habits. In Las Vegas there is no need for online gambling. We have enough casinos to go to within 10 minutes of anyone's home.

  2. I have problems believing Sheldon Adelson is against on line gaming because of minors. Yes, that would be the very PC reason but I have a feeling there is much more to this vote against it. Would be interesting to know his real reason.

  3. "Sheldon Adelson ... opposes online gambling because he doesn't believe available technology is good enough to prevent young people from making wagers on the Internet..."

    I suspect he cares more about the regulators than the age of his gamblers. This is another example of far too much government meddling in our lives, underage being one of their excuses to give police, prosecutors and their parasites something to do. First, what harm would these "young people" be doing? Second, what they do is primarily their parents' concern. Then the main consideration is how would someone underage have such online access, and able to pay a wager?

    "The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations." -- Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 535 (1925)

  4. Whether or not this is his real reason, it is in fact a very real concern. Speaking as a programmer with almost 15yrs of experience in online commerce that is concerned with age I can attest that it is very difficult, if not virtually impossible, to validate an online user's identity and age with 100% certainty.

    A second concern is cheating, with the primary form being that of collusion. VOIP (think Skype) makes this trivial to engage in online, and it requires sophisticated analysis to detect with software.

    Players beware!

  5. "This isn't about age verification. That function can be easily accomplished by requiring a credit card (which are only available to those over 18) and verifying accountholder age with the card issuer. Boom, done." - keystone6

    It is not possible, at all, to verify age with the card issuer. Also, while the rule used to be that the legitimate cardholder was presumed to be over 18, new banking practices allows minors to have bank cards with parental consent.

    For various reasons no one has changed the practice of presuming the legitimate cardholder is over 18, but all adult websites are aware of the potential problems down the road given the current environment.

    It is impossible to verify a person's identity and age without them being in your physical presence and you having the proper training to detect a fake ID from any country on the planet. And even then, defecation occurs.

  6. There is no dispute that online poker generates revenue. The big questions about jobs and security have not been answered!

    How many jobs? The online structure is a back of the house operation with online support! Most online support is by computer. How many people will be hired to maintain the back of the house operations? How many are needed? Where is the data to support such claims? How many jobs?

    What about security? The information required to open an online account will be like talking to the IRS or applying for a non-restricted gaming license (ok, a slight exaggeration, but not far off)you will must provide detailed personal information that will be stored, where? And by whom or what? How will the information be protected? Will the information be shared? What are your rights when using an online site?

    With any land based casino a patron can enter the casino, play, have a good time and not be asked who they are unless certain levels of play are exceeded. This will change with online poker! If you want to play online, fine, accept the rules to play. However, who will secure this structure, the online activity? Who will protect "under age individuals" from access to account, or access from intruders---unauthorized access from anyone?

    Bottom line, where is the data to support all what the poker advocates are saying? Security, and Jobs? Where is the data?

  7. Anyone that wants to keep Internet gaming illegal because of the risk of underage youth participating, should also fight to make online investing illegal. What if an underage person should log in to an online trading account and start to bet on what might happen to a stock or option or futures contract without their parents permission? There seems to be a lot more danger of financial ruin in that case than there would be in an online gaming account.