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Billionaire Las Vegas CEO launching effort to kill online gambling

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sands casino (sands)
sands casino (sands)

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is reportedly set to wage war against online gambling. According to The Washington Post, Adelson — a billionaire and major political donor — is preparing to launch an advocacy group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which will aim to convince legislators to ban online gambling on the grounds that legal online gambling could exploit children, the poor, and possibly others. The group will reportedly launch in January, and Adelson has already begun hiring lobbyists and experts in support.

Competing casinos are pushing for legalization

Though online gambling was long believed to be illegal, a 2011 federal opinion stated otherwise, and states have since begun legalizing the business model on their own. Though Adelson, who runs Las Vegas Sands — owner of the Venetian and the Palazzo — is pushing for a ban, the Post reports that many of his competitors, including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, believe that regulated online gambling could help the industry and are in favor of its legalization.

The Post reports that Adelson's opponents plan to strike back against his campaign, arguing that a ban on online gambling would only bring about unregulated black markets run from offshore. Even so, Adelson's offense could become a major obstacle for them: he was one of the biggest political donors during the 2012 election campaign, reportedly donating around $100 million in total. Though it's not clear how much he's planning to spend on the advocacy group, the Post reports that it'll be his biggest venture yet into legal debates around his own line of business.

Adelson's lobbyists have reportedly already met with lawmakers and many congressional offices about the ban. According to the Post, draft legislation that would halt online gambling and direct the FBI to study potential law enforcement issues is now circulating among a small group. Adelson also reportedly plans to head out to Washington next year to meet with lawmakers and push the matter forward.

But while draft legislation stopping online gambling may be circulating, efforts have existed on the other side of the issue to legalize the practice too. Advocates believe that online gambling is slowly but surely moving toward wider legality, but it appears that there could be a major battle before it gets there.