Internet gambling industry girds for fight

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Mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson's reported plans to launch a major push against Internet gambling drew a swift rebuke Monday from an industry player that says the activity should be legal.

“The Internet cannot be forced back into the bottle — nor can market demand,” American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman said.

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Freeman’s statement follows a report published Monday in The Washington Post revealing that Adelson intends to wage a major public campaign and lobbying battle against online gambling.

A handful of states have moved to legalize online gambling, and many more are considering approval. Multiple bills that would allow for regulated Internet gambling are also pending in Congress.

Adelson, according to The Post, will in January launch a “Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling,” as part of an effort to color online gambling as dangerous.

A contributor of tens of millions of campaign dollars to Republican super-PACs, Adelson has for months urged lawmakers to put a stop to Internet gambling. In ramping up the effort, he will test the limits of his clout on a politically divisive issue.

Pro-online gambling interests argue that regulated Internet gambling is the best approach.

“New government efforts to prohibit online gaming will unintentionally strengthen black market providers, create more risk for American consumers, including children, and drive U.S. jobs and potential revenues overseas,” Freeman said. “We appreciate divergent viewpoints and welcome a healthy discussion on this complex issue.”