In Response to the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (C4COP) Campaign Launch
“The proponents of Internet gambling are selling a business model that will lead to spiraling debt and job losses for the middle class to deliver profits to giants like MGM and Caesars,” the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling said in a statement.
“The dangers of Internet gambling are many and varied. Online gaming sites have no proven protections for minors; they can be manipulated by terrorists and other bad actors to launder money; and they offer 24/7 access to bring a casino into every American’s home.
“Internet gambling is a bridge too far that Americans cannot abide.”
FULL TEXT ON C4COP’s LAUNCH, ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY POLITICO:
Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s mission to ban Internet gambling just got a major opponent — a coalition backed by MGM International and other Washington powerhouses.
The newly minted Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection is going up Wednesday with an initial three-week, $250,000 online and print ad buy to campaign against a federal online gambling ban. The ad buy is focused predominately on the Washington, D.C., market, but also will have presence in Nevada.
The coalition has also hired some heavy hitters to help them make their case. Former Rep. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), who served as Financial Services Committee chairman when the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 passed, will be the coalition’s spokesman. Also on board: top Democratic operative Jim Messina; former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), now of FaegreBD Consulting; and Kristen Hawn of Granite Integrated Strategies.
It also engaged North Star Opinion Research’s Dan Judy and Whit Ayres to do a poll for the coalition at the end of January which found 33 percent of voters “strongly” oppose a ban comparedwith 22 percent “strongly” supporting it. From the 1,000 interviews the pollsters also found that 74 percent of voters prefer the state-by-state legalization approach compared to a nationwide ban.
The effort is in response to top Republican donor Adelson’s pledge late last year to use his fortune to lobby Congress to ban online gaming, arguing that it’s not good for society and could hurt casinos’ traditional business model.
This is Adelson’s most public foray into pushing a legislative agenda in Washington and could be a test case for how far prolific political contributions get donors lobbying on pet projects.
Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands, formed the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling in January and has gotten some early traction with a number of state attorneys co-signing a letter to congressional leaders and House and Senate Judiciary panel members to keep online gaming illegal.
More recently, Adelson’s top political operative told Ralston Reports they planned to go “state by state” to block legalization.
Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts also publicly changed his position recently on Internet gambling, arguing that it wasn’t good “entrepreneurial opportunity.” Wynn has not publicly teamed up with Adelson.
“The proponents of Internet gambling are selling a business model that will lead to spiraling debt and job losses for the middle class to deliver profits to giants like MGM and Caesars,” the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling said in a statement, noting that online gaming sites can be manipulated by terrorists or others for money laundering and there are not adequate protections for minors. “Internet gambling is a bridge too far that Americans cannot abide.”
It’s a dramatic change of course for proponents of legalizing online gambling. In recent years, the congressional action on Internet gaming has been focused on potential legalization with powerful allies like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) trying to cut a deal. And advocates of legalization have had some victories at the state level. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have legalized Internet gambling, and New York may also consider similar action.
MGM’s Alan Feldman said it’s important for opponents of the ban to get vocal, especially in light of Adelson’s decision to use his financial largesse to fund the issue.
“He is using that, and he is going to use that, and we have to argue the facts on our side,” Feldman said. “He’s not making a secret of his positions. We shouldn’t be secretive about ours.”
Nearly the entire industry is opposed to Adelson’s suggested ban, including traditional brick-and-mortar casinos and the American Gaming Association.
Feldman declined to comment on the budget for the coalition.
“I think we have the best resource. We have the facts,” Feldman said. “He’s playing on people’s fears, he’s making all kinds of claims and making all kinds of accusations that simply aren’t true, so we’re going to stick to the facts and hope that the facts might win out.”
Bono said that trying to stop Internet gambling is impossible.
“I try to compare it to the similarities we witnessed the film and television and music industries go through,” Bono said. “I think the lessons we’ve learned now is it’s impossible to stand in the way of the Internet and it’s best to embrace it and try to shape it.”
The Poker Players Alliance, a veteran in the online gaming lobbying wars, is also lending its support to the coalition. The group’s Executive Director John Pappas said PPA will leverage its grass-roots network to continue to put out the message that prohibition is unsustainable.
“The concern is that a lot of money can buy you traction, and Adelson has a lot of money,” Pappas said. “They are trying to deliver a message that misrepresents the issue, and for those of us who have been following this issue for a long time, we see through the blatant hypocrisy and misrepresentation. The average American may not be familiar with this issue at all and can be taken by some of the PR push that they are making.”