Reno casino boss joins crusade against online gaming

The three amigos?

You’ve heard Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn are against online gambling. Now, Atlantis chief John Farahi has joined the chorus, telling me Tuesday that he is opposed to web gaming. How opposed?

“100 percent,” he said by phone. “1,000 percent.”

Farahi said he recently convened a meeting of gaming executives and invited, among others, Adelson lieutenant Andy Abboud, to talk about the threat of online gaming.

“Morally and for the health of our society, having gaming in people’s homes is not good,” Farahi said. “At least with a casino, you have to make the effort. It would be foolish of us to let this happen.”

During an interview, Farahi echoed many of the same themes Adelson did when I talked to him a few weeks ago. He called online gambling “socially destructive,” said he worries about young people getting addicted and distinguished the Internet from brick and mortar gaming because of accessibility.

“These young kids can get into (hack) anything,” he said. “And say someone has a rough day at work and for whatever reason wants to escape and turns his computer on and blows his paycheck because he is at home.”

Farahi acknowledged he believes that widespread online gaming will hurt Northern Nevada casinos and that others in Reno feel as he does. When I asked about the argument that you cannot put this genie back in the bottle, he said a federal ban would do so. And he added that he has spoken with Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller recently about the idea, which is being pushed by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Farahi’s position will bolster Adelson’s contention that he is hardly alone in his crusade. And it could give sustenance to those in Congress who are looking to ban online gaming.