Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson fears his empire is on the verge of destruction.
The enemy? Internet gaming. If this new form of gambling takes off, Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, worries that the ramifications for the live gambling industry couldu be disastrous.
“Somebody like Google or Facebook, they’ve got a billion customers hitting them every day,” the usually press-averse Adelson recently told Politico, “They’ll come in there, they’ll squash the other guys like … you squash the little ant running across the table or the floor and that’s going to be the end of all of it.”
Rallying his troops, Adelson created the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling last month. The American Gaming Association built its own coalition in response. On Feb. 4, the AGA-backed pro-online gaming Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection opened. Adelson’s arch nemesis, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Gary Loveman, is leading AGA’s online gaming initiative. Caesars, which currently stands $24 billion in debt, is looking for a way to revitalize their business.
“Since [Adelson] is an avowed non-computer user, an Internet virgin so far as I can tell, he does not know what he is talking about,” Loveman told Politico.
“They’re completely broke,” Adelson shot back. “You know, the old expression, ‘If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich? If they’re so smart, why aren’t they successful? I’ll tell you the truth: I don’t think they know what they’re doing.”
Name-calling aside, this seems a battle Adelson just might lose. Last year, $6 billion of the estimated $15 billion from the worldwide online-gambling market came from the United States.
Adelson is, as always, unperturbed by his opposition. “I’ve been an entrepreneur for 68 years,” the 80-year-old casino mogul said confidently. “I’ve never failed yet.”
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Hannah Dreyfus is an editorial intern at Tablet.