Online Poker Opponent Sheldon Adelson Gives $10 Million to Newt Gingrich
Owner of Venetian is Longtime Friend of GOP Presidential Candidate
Casino boss and online gaming opponent Sheldon Adelson has given another $5 million (now $10 million total) to a super PAC for surging GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, according to Politico.
According to the New York Times, Gingrich is a longtime friend and patron to the billionaire’s Las Vegas properties. Gingrich also backed legislation more than a decade ago to preserve tax breaks for the casino industry.
Updated Tuesday at 1 PM: Card Player spoke with Dr. Kenneth Fernandez, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He said that it’s unlikely Adelson’s donations will “have any real influence” on Gingrich’s policy decisions were he to become president. He said that there is too much scrutiny on presidential candidates.
Adelson has long been a backer of conservatives, having made contributions to Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl — who supported the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.
Despite expanding his casino interests to Asia, Adelson has been against online poker in the U.S. because he believes underage gambling can’t be prevented.
Brian Greenspun, president and editor of the Las Vegas Sun, harshly criticized Adelson in December, writing that ordinary Nevadans “don’t have Asia to promise them vast riches” and that he hopes the casino boss can understand “that the technology available on the Internet is very good and uses active measures to prevent underage gambling.”
Dr. David Schwartz, Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, was evenhanded in analyzing Adelson’s influence on the issue last month.
“He’s one owner, and there’s a lot of different voices there. I don’t think his opinion invalidates the opinions of other folks — Wynn, Caesars, MGM — who are in favor of [online poker],” Schwartz said. “Obviously if you have an opponent it’s not going to make it easier, but I don’t think it’s insurmountable. If it forces the proponents to take a closer look at the age verification and explain what they are doing, and make a stronger case, in the end I think this is a good thing. I think that ultimately someone will be able to demonstrate age verification to Mr. Adelson’s satisfaction, and he may support it after that.”
Adelson’s views don’t completely align with the American Gaming Association — the industry’s top lobbying group in Washington — who is fully behind federal legislation for online poker. Mike Leven, President of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., serves as a member of the AGA’s board of directors.
Nevada is currently in the process of finalizing the minimum internal control and technical standards, which will address age verification strategies.
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