House members call Adelson ‘hypocritical’ on online gambling

House members highlighted casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s seemingly contradicting positions on online gambling during a Tuesday hearing on online gambling.

Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., has been a vocal opponent of state and federal attempts to legalize online gambling.

ADVERTISEMENT
Despite Adelson’s protests to legalized online gambling, the Venetian Las Vegas — a casino owned by Adelson’s group — offers mobile gambling to customers visiting the casino, according to its site.

“Is there anything you can’t do on a smartphone or tablet nowadays?” the site asks

“Mobile Casino Gaming is available to you on property during your stay, and you can even play from your room!”

Members of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on trade questioned how Adelson’s group could offer mobile gambling services while opposing attempts to legalize online gambling.

Subcommittee member Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) introduced the Internet Poker Freedom Act earlier this year, which would create a federal licensing system for states to allow residents to play online poker for money.

“What you’re advertising … is the same thing that we’re talking about,” Barton said to Las Vegas Sands Corp. Vice President of Government Relations Andrew Abboud during Tuesday’s hearing.

“It’s just a matter of how wide the geography is,” Barton said.

Subcommittee ranking member Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) pressed Abboud on the discrepancy.

“It feels, to me, a little hypocritical,” she said.

Abboud replied that the casino is able to verify visiting customers who want to gamble through their smartphones.

“That’s a very controlled environment in a regulated state,” he said.

Abboud spent most of his testimony asking the committee to ban online gambling.

Smartphones will become traveling casinos where anyone, including children, can access online gambling, he said.

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas, who testified at the hearing in favor of legalizing poker, said Adelson's group faces "a difficult position for them to reconcile."

"On one hand they claim a ‘moral objection’ to Internet and mobile gaming, yet you don’t have to dig deep to learn that they tout themselves as a leader in the ‘mobile casino’ gaming and sports betting in Nevada," Pappas said in a statement to The Hill.

"I guess it is ok to gamble on the Internet only when it benefits their bottom line."