Online gambling is a double-edged sword.
Gov. Chris Christie knows that sword well. His state’s gambling mecca, Atlantic City, has seen a welcome season of growth that has included handsome returns from online gambling websites licensed under the city’s casinos. As a result, Christie signed a bill in July asking President Trump to keep online gambling legal.
Here’s U.S. News & World Report’s take on the bill:
“The bill passed by the New Jersey Legislature and signed by Christie says a federal prohibition against internet gambling would negatively impact New Jersey, ‘dismantling the investments that the state and Atlantic City casinos have already made to implement and regulate Internet gaming.'”
Las Vegas Sands boss pressures Congress
Christie obviously supports online gambling, but there are rumblings within Congress that Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson is pushing federal lawmakers to protect brick-and-mortar casinos by ending online gambling.
Form Adelson’s perspective, online gambling presents a threat to the profits of brick-and-mortar casinos, even if those same casinos are the ones who operate the gambling websites. His influence surfaced in 2015 when the House backed an online gambling ban that ultimately failed.
This is part of the reason Pennsylvania’s lawmakers and governor have failed to sign a bill that includes online gambling and the addition of slots to non-casino properties.
The more options people have to gamble outside a casino’s walls, the thinking goes, the greater the chances potential customers will never darken a casino door.
Interesting dichotomy between Adelson and Atlantic City
Adelson’s contention that online gambling vultures profits and customers from brick-and-mortar locations is one that, according to industry experts, may have the support of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
During the Attorney General’s confirmation, he indicated he opposed the Department of Justice’s 2011 decision to allow online gambling under the 1961 Wire Act.
Sessions’ opposition to the DoJ’s decision was an indication he may seek to ban online gambling, a decision that would make the wealthy Trump supporter Adelson very happy.
Such a decision, however, would devastate Christie and the state’s casino owners, as New Jersey is one of just three states who launched online gambling after the DoJ’s decision.
While the state’s casino bosses and voters have long been opposed to opening casinos outside of Atlantic City, there has been little pushback toward online gambling.
In a national sense, there isn’t much opposition to online gambling either. In a recent Institute for Liberty poll, nine out of 10 conservative Americans said they oppose a ban on online gambling. That poll spurred The Hill to publish an editorial railing against those who advocate for shutting down online gambling:
“Conservatives across the nation sent a clear message to Adelson and his cohorts that they will not tolerate such an egregious example of political cronyism.”
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