An anti-online poker group that is backed by Las Vegas casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, has been exploiting ongoing concerns pertaining to data privacy following the recent Facebook data scandal. The group’s ultimate goal is to ensure that regulated online casinos are completely done away within the United States.
According to a report made by Business Insider earlier this week, the group which identifies as the ‘Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling’ has been criticizing the regulated online gambling industry in an effort to destabilize the growth of the nascent market. At the moment, only four states have approved the operation of regulated of online casino games but this number is certainly likely to increase as more states are considering doing the same this year.
Adelson has been quite open about his distaste for online gambling particularly because he believes that the legalization of online casino gaming will deal a blow to his land-based casino empire. The casino mogul whose net worth is somewhere around $40 billion further claims that internet gambling has certain societal costs that will become more prominent when more states embrace online gaming. For years, Adelson has funded efforts to bring back a 1960s law that was watered by the Obama Department of Justice in 2011 thus effectively giving states the liberty of regulating online gaming.
There have also been legislative efforts of a similar kind but they have all failed to bear any fruit thanks to the extreme difficulty of moving such as bill through Congress. As a result, there have been a number of backdoor attempts at driving the anti-online poker agenda – piggybacking on the advertising and data privacy scandal is just one of the more recent opportunistic attempts.
Facebook on the Spotlight
The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is specifically highlighting the fact that data-driven online casino advertisements follow users’ browsing activity thus appearing on multiple websites. The group believes that this is enough reason to wipe out online gaming despite the existence of state regulations that offer proper safeguards to attenuate bad gambling habits and underage play.
Jeff Ifrah, a prominent gaming attorney, finds it rather puzzling that the coalition “would try and tout Facebook…to support an initiative against a regulated industry like state-based online gaming that has witnessed no such challenges to date.” He referenced New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania where online gaming is thriving without any compromises on data privacy. The coalition has been riding on fear-mongering amid growing political sentiment on Capitol Hill to regulate Facebook after recent revelations that the social media site was used as an avenue for political manipulation.
In response to this, Ifrah pointed out that Facebook’s woes are, in fact, proof that there needs to be more online gaming regulation, not less, as the coalition is advocating for.
“Facebook is virtually unregulated—just like illegal offshore online gambling today,” he said. “The companies that we represent—and the members of the iDEA trade association—advocate legalized, regulated online gaming so that consumers can play the games they love in a safe environment that is overseen by state regulations and provided by reputable companies who respect their privacy and protect their financial data.”