The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations will hold a hearing on sports betting on Thursday, the 27th of September. The most influential anti-online poker group backed by American business magnate Sheldon Adelson will testify at the hearing. The subcommittee will meet at 10am on Capitol Hill.
Coalition Wants To Stop Online Casino Legislation
The lobbying group known as the ‘Coalition to Stop Online Gambling’ has sparked controversy over its strong views against online casino games such as traditional poker. The group will be represented at the hearing by former Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, a Republican.
Billionaire Adelson who is the founder of Las Vegas Sands Corp, the largest casino developer in America has been vehemently opposed to the legalization of online gambling and has personally financed the coalition to campaign for online gambling legislation to be stopped in respective states. The casino tycoon has claimed that online gambling will cause significant harm to Americans as there are no proper regulations in place which will lead to minors gambling, money laundering issues and criminal activities.
However, Critics doubt Adelson’s true intentions saying the business magnate only wants to protect his casino empire as he believes the online gambling industry will cut into the profits of his land based casino empire. It is interesting to note that some of Sands Corps main rivals such Caesars Entertainment Corp and MGM Resorts International have now launched online gaming products.
Four States Currently Allow Legalized Online Gambling
Adelson’s group is raising concern on the increasing number of states who are keen on legalizing internet gambling. Four states are currently allowing legalized online gambling. They are Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. There are over 10 states that are pushing for online gambling legalization as they believe illegal online gambling operators are targeting US players in their respective states and putting them at more risk. A legalized online gambling industry would provide better protection and also earn the state significant revenue in the form of online gaming taxes and licenses.
Several billion dollars are lost each year to illegal sports betting and online casino games and efforts are ongoing to completely curb the black market. Despite online casino games now being available through offshore betting sites, Adelson who is the 21st richest person in the world continues to push for a total ban of online casino regulation as he claims it would hurt society.
Concerns Raised Over “Predatory Internet Gambling”
The coalition believes that a legalized online gambling industry will impact jobs and the economy, poses significant risk to people who have gambling addiction and can adversely affect minors who are participating online. It is calling on Congress to take immediate action to protect Americans from predatory online gambling.
Adelson’s coalition has been pushing over the years to restore the 1961 Wire Act to prevent US states to authorize online casino gambling. But talks on legislation to enable the Act are less likely to go in Adelson’s favor as state lotteries offering internet gambling will be greatly affected.
Leagues, Casino Industry’s Take on Sports Betting
Adelson’s efforts received a setback in May once the Supreme Court ruled in favor of repealing PASPA and allowing states to determine whether they want to offer legalized sports betting. This was a blessing in disguise for the online gambling industry. Even professional sports leagues who have been against sports betting for the longest time are now open to sports betting action, provided the activity given there is federal oversight.
Sports betting is an emerging market in the US with revenue estimated to grow to over $15 billion annually if all states allow the activity, as per recent analysis by research group Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. Research from the American Gaming Association (AGA) also found that Americans spend around $150 billion a year on sports betting, with 97 percent of the handle historically being wagered through the black market.
Other groups set to give testimony at the hearing are the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the AGA and the National Football League (NFL). NFL’s 2017 revenue stood at around $14 billion, but the league wants to take greater control over the sports betting industry as it pushes for $25 billion annual revenue by 2027, under the leadership of Roger Goodell.
The advent of the internet and mobile devices has paved way for the regulated sports betting industry to soar to greater heights. This is evident in two states where Adelson has casinos – Nevada and New Jersey. Adelson’s coalition is expected to set out its full position on widespread online sports betting during the hearing on Thursday.