What Has Sheldon wrought? By Jeffrey Compton April 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm While working on the Flash last Tuesday morning, I came upon the opinion piece “Las Vegas made a big, bad bet on casinos” – one of the nastiest anti-Las Vegas (and anti-gaming) commentaries I have read in a very long time. Written by prominent conservative columnist David Frum for the very prominent news website CNN.com, this over-wrought piece says that Las Vegas will never return to its boomtown days because luxury casino gaming will never return to its boomtown days. Frum even quotes an unnamed poll (is it problematical to be specific?) that 38% of the population today “reject gambling for themselves personally.” After several minutes of consideration I decided against including the article in The Flash. Our morning news report does not normally run outside commentary (except from our content partners Bloomberg, Las Vegas Review Journal, and Global Gaming Business), and the piece – in my opinion – has no redeeming value. I noticed that that Ken Adams also chose to pass on the piece in his (much more comprehensive) Adams Daily Report. When I asked him about it, it turned out that he felt the same way as I did. He said that the only reason he thought about it for more than a minute was due to the prominence of the author and the prominence of the publisher. “Normally one only sees this on politically extreme websites,” he commented. “That it appears on CNN.com is concerning.” That got my Jessica Fletcher mind going. What inspired David Frum to take such a personal whack at Las Vegas? Many other cities that are having economic issues, so what inspired such vitriol at Las Vegas, which has come quite a distance on its road to recovery? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Sunday before the column appeared, Mr. Frum was a special guest speaker at Sheldon Adelson’s much-publicized GOP kiss-my-ring (or whatever) political event? As someone who tries to regularly write coherent commentary, I cannot say what motivates me to select a particular subject, much less determine the specific motivations of other writers. Still, it seems reasonable to assume that when Mr. Frum found himself well-paid in Las Vegas (or making plans to do so), he decided to write a column about the city and its gaming industry. Now to the point of this commentary: This is hardly the first time that Sheldon Adelson has been associated (and much less peripherally) in anti-gaming rhetoric. Has he realized that when he decided to start a no-holds-barred war on Internet gaming, his actions (offering unlimited amounts of campaign donations to anti-Internet gaming politicians, running anti-internet gaming ads across the country, bullying the AGA) hurt the entire industry? Frum’s attack piece does not mention the word “Internet.” The word “online” appears once toward the end, and (compared to the rest of the article) in a positive light: “Younger gamblers are attracted to online forms of gambling.” (Conversely the words “Las Vegas” appear 10 times, second only to “Nevada” which appears 12 times.) Looking at other news stories, Adelson’s actions seem nothing but ego-driven overkill. The revenue figures from New Jersey and Nevada show that Internet gaming is no hit, and has made no dent in brick-and-mortar business (and maybe even increased it for some properties) i.e. the spread of iGaming doesn’t need any more of Sheldon’s help in slowing down. However, anti-gaming groups have been increasingly energetic in several states, including Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Florida and, of course, Massachusetts. Worse yet, it’s been reported that the Federal Government is considering regulations forcing casinos to vet where the money of their high-rollers is coming from (somewhat inspired “by anti-money laundering lapses at the Venetian and Palazzo”, according to Reuters). I don’t blame Adelson for each and every anti-gaming effort (and many of these are reactions to specific gaming expansion efforts), but his excessive actions against one small part of the business are creating an atmosphere that could bring down the entire industry like – wait for it – a house of cards!