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What Adelson's Death Could Mean for Online Gambling Legislation?

January 21, 2021

Known as the Republican kingmaker and casino magnate of Sin City, Sheldon Adelson, once a staunch opponent of online gambling, has passed away at the age of 87 because of complications from his cancer treatment. During the last 10 years of his life, Adelson fueled the actions of federal and state legislature to make online gambling illegal. He was the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, which employs over 50,000 employees.

War against Online Gambling

Adelson waged a fierce war against online gambling, despite owning some of the world's most iconic casinos. His personal efforts at online casinos failed, so he made it illegal. In 2014, Adelson's efforts at banning online gambling culminated in the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG). This group lobbied at the state and federal level to keep gambling illegal.

When New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware first legalized online gambling in 2013, Adelson vowed that he would spend whatever it took to make online gambling illegal. Since 2013, only three other states have joined the original three with legalizing online gambling, which include Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia.

What Adelson's Death Could Mean?

Adelson always stood in the direct path of online gambling legalization with his lobbying efforts and $33.5 billion to spend on it. Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio were among the cohort of lawmakers that Sheldon paid to put the legislature in his favor. With him gone, this could soon mean that online gambling has fewer obstacles against its legalization. Even Las Vegas Sands could move more in the direction of online gambling.

Why He was the Republican Kingmaker

In two years, Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam funneled over $215 million into federal super PACs. This buoyed them to the top as the biggest Republican donors in the 2020 elections. Doubtless, Adelson served as a revolutionary force in Vegas, Macao and Singapore as he saw trends and capitalized on them. He transformed the industry and helped to reimagine Las Vegas at a time when it looked like Reno would be the gambling capital of Nevada.

No one should ever celebrate someone's death, which is cold and wrong morally. However, you can't argue the legislative implications and what Sheldon's passing means to online gambling because he brought legalization to a grinding halt nationwide for years. Many of the decisions against online gambling could be widely linked to the lobbying efforts of Sheldon Adelson.


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