Muddled Message Erroneously Unites Steve Wynn & Sheldon Adelson in War on iGaming
This week the poker media is abuzz after Wynn Resorts got the green light to begin operating real money online poker and casino games in the state of New Jersey, but Steve Wynn publicly stated that he doesn’t see the industry as a good financial bet at this point in time.
For the time being, Wynn will be putting on hold any plans it had to launch Internet wagering in the Garden State, the third such regulated market in the United States.
Business decision for Wynn, not a moral one
In a much-talked about piece that appeared on Forbes.com, author Nathan Vardi pits casino mogul Wynn firmly against online gambling, though stops short of saying he has crossed over to Sheldon Adelson’s widely publicized anti-iGaming side, writing that Wynn is “not exactly joining Adelson in his war against online gambling.”
The article comes after Wynn told Nevada television host Jon Ralston that he sees the burgeoning real money online gambling market in the U.S. as “not a good entrepreneurial opportunity.”
One can certainly read into Wynn’s comments that he is not firmly entrenched against online betting because of ethical qualms, but rather because the industry at this point is simply not very large.
New Jersey, where Wynn has received a “transactional waiver” allowing the company to use one of the iGaming permits held by Caesars Interactive, saw its market top out at $8.4 million in the first six weeks of operation. The real money Internet gambling industry there got its official start at the end of November.
The Garden State is by far the largest regulated online gambling market in the nation. It has a population of some 9 million, whereas the combined population of Nevada and Delaware – the only other regulated markets in the nation – is less than 4 million people.
Whether or not Wynn decides to eventually get involved in the nascent New Jersey online gambling business remains to be seen, but if it does, it is probably not going to be very soon.
“We are allowing them to use one of our permits. I’m not aware of if they are going live, or when,” Caesars Interactive spokesman Seth Polansky was quoted as saying.
Adelson’s campaign can seem more like a crusade
On the other hand, Sheldon Adelson has spent months railing against legalizing Internet wagering – at either the state level or at the federal level – citing concerns that are primarily moral in nature and concern things like worries that underage children will be able to gain access to the sites or that they could cause problems for addictive gamblers.
Adelson has penned a number of provocative op-ed pieces – a few of which appeared on Forbes.com – warning of the dangers of online wagering, something he has likened to a “toxin.”
More recently, he has organized his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a bi-partisan lobbying group that is working to get a bill outlawing online wagering passed at the federal level.