Republican Heavyweights Join NJ Anti-iGaming MovementPublished July 24, 2015 by Lee R
The intense lobbying efforts opposing US iGaming regulation are led by land-based casino interests.
In a state where online gaming has been an early success, a movement to undo that progress is gaining traction.
Lott, Watts Join Movement
A coalition seeking to ban online gaming in New Jersey has hired former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and former U.S. House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts to increase lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.
Two Republican Presidential candidates, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are among a group of senators in the anti-iGaming camp who introduced legislation to the US Congress last month to end online gambling in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. A hearing on the topic was previously held in the House, where a similar bill was introduced in March.
Land-Based Operator Funds
The leader of the lobbying effort is land-based casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who obviously does not want online casinos cutting into the revenues of his many land-based casinos. Adelson gave $93 million to Republican lobbying groups in 2012, including multimillion-dollar donations to action committees supporting leading Republican Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
While many try to couch the anti online movement as a moral or social issue, the fuel behind their fire is ultimately the private financial interest of the world's largest land-based casino operator, who clearly is protecting against the possibility that online gaming could phase out the costly land-based casino operations which Adelson and his peers are so heavily invested in.
This year to date, Las Vegas Sands lobbying expenditures have jumped to $680,000, almost two-thirds higher during the first six months of 2015 compared with $410,000 during the same period of 2014.
Through the Smokescreen
The social benefits of online gambling do exist; they increase state revenues for public works and services. An effective regulation and taxation system should not be overlooked or underestimated in the face of the moral arguments voiced by anti-online gambling lobbies that land-based casinos fund in the battle for public opinion.