Adelson: Web poker is a "cancer waiting to happen," poker is not a game of skill and his rivals support it because they need the money

One day after he penned a scathing op-ed in Forbes about online gaming, Gondolier Numero Uno Sheldon Adelson called web poker a "cancer" and derided itd description as a game of skill in an interview with Bloomberg News.

The interview, parts of which are embedded below, with Deirdre Bolton, also featured Adelson equating online gambling with the potential legalization of heroin, cocaine and prostitution, saying the arguments for government to make money are similar. The Las Vegas Sands chairman also emphasized that he doesn't want his children "to have the opportunity to get addicted to gaming."

Bolton repeatedly pressed Adelson on the differences between getting addicted in a land-based casino or online and he did not relent. "No land-based casino....would allow a player out of control to gamble," he argued, contrasting it to "dressing in your birthday suit, taking your computer into bed."

When Bolton said poker is "skill-based," Adelson retorted, "That 'skill-based' in my opinion is just a bunch of baloney. To get a card is not skill based."

Asked about Silicon Valley folks waiting for online gaming legalization, Adelson responded: "What makes (Amazon's) Jeff Bezos and (Google's) Eric Schmidt a lot smarter....than me? I've got 68 years of being in business 68 years. I've created over 50 busiensses and never failed in one."

Adelson said he "doesn't need any more money...Being the 15th richest man out of seven billion certainly doesn't give me an incentive to make a few hundred million dollars more."

Adelson also implied that Steve Wynn agrees with him in part and suggested that other companies are not as well positioned and need the money: "Gary Loveman (Caesars) and MGM have their own challenges. I do not have challenges."

This week clearly marks a new phase in Adelson's opposition to online poker, which is being touted by almost every other major industry player as a gold mine for established companies. Nevada passed a law this year enabling companies to go into the business and Ultimate Gaming already is up and running.

But Adelson has signaled he will do anything to stop the proliferation (I wodner if he is committed to blocking any federal bill with his House clout), not just talk about it, I'd guess.

Fuller excerpts courtesy of Bloomberg TV, with portions of the video below the snippets:


Adelson on online gambling:

“They are not getting wrong. I just had lunch with Steve Wynn. He is not totally against what I am saying. He discussed with me on his the potential impact on his property and my property in Las Vegas because we have two different markets. It really will not affect us one way or the other. I bring this up not because it is a business issue, but because I am citizen of the United States, a veteran of the Korean War, a father, a grandfather I am a patriot and I care about this country… I am not going to stand by knowing what I know, experienced what I experienced and not speak out. We did an eight country survey in Europe because we are contemplating doing a major development there and we found that the eight country that allow full internet gambling has gone up an average of 28% when the land-based casinos have gone down from 3-6% or stayed exactly even with a previously anticipated 5-10% growth factor. For 10 years, if you factor in 5-10% growth factor or even if you just stay even it is a great loss. I have 2 teenage boys. They get addicted to everything that is on the TV. When they talk about Gary Loveman only wants Poker. Gary Loveman and MGM have their own challenges. I do not have challenges… We made billions of dollars last year. It is not a money issue with me. I think it is a train wreck. It’s really toxicity. It is a cancer waiting to happen.”


On cynics saying he is just trying to protect his rural land-based casino empire:

“First of all, let me tell you that the casinos account for less than 10% of my total gross income and EBITDA. I do have my properties in Vegas at $350 Million EBITDA. I do it in one property. In Macau or Singapore. Singapore last year made five times what our property earns in the United States. We are not intending to get into it.  I’m just telling you any skeptic could say that money is the consideration. Money is not a consideration. Money is not a consideration with me. If you just look at where I stand in Forbes rating, No. 15 in the world, making $200 million extra is not an incentive for me.”


On whether he wants a piece of potential revenue from online gambling following reports that Europe had $32 Million in online gambling revenue:

“No. No. I don’t want it. It is not $32 Billion in Europe. If you want, we had a study done from eight countries from one of the betting gaining researchers in the world. What do you do with a kid that is either underage or of age with student loans? It is very easy for them to get pressured by peers to go and gamble white they are drunk or doing drugs.”

On whether that is different from land-based casinos:

“Of course it is…No land-based casino would somebody that’s our of control of themselves to sit and gamble… Let’s say one thing for sure, it’s an adult who gets dressed, gets in the car, comes with friends, goes to a place, they have a bueffet, they play, they go bowling and they play for a couple of hours hours on the tables and they enjoy themselves as entertainment, this not dressing in your Birthday suit, taking your computer into bed, and it is not underage kids that get set up by of-age kids, and they play until they lose all of their money. I believe that poker and other forms of gambling, poker particularly since it’s considered a social activity and not gambling per se, kids will get up in the middle of the night if they cannot sleep, or they come home late, and they challenge each other to say, let’s play some power or some blackjack. They are going to lose.”

On not making an exception for the skills based Poker:

“That skill base is, in my opinion, just a bunch of baloney. To get a card is not skill base. I know people say it is skill based, but it’s just so they can categorize it in a certain segment.”

On making an exception for online poker:

“Absolutely not. Look, I’m a father, grandfather. I do not want my children – I’m a veteran of the Korean War. I do not want my children to have the opportunity to become addicted to gaming. And poker, in my opinion, would become one of the most addictive games. People do not get addicted to necessarily playing blackjack. They get addicted for the game. It is one of the many compulsive behaviors and somebody is addicted to gaming, they are addicted to some other compulsive behaviors. Can you tell me one good reason why internet gaming should be allowed.”


On the argument that online gaming brings in state tax revenues:

“You could also make that argument for legalizing heroin and cocaine and prostitution. You can create a lot of sin tax for the government to make money.”


On Jeff Bezos saying that internet gaming being the next logical step for the business:

“Well, why don’t we say that other sins, crime, mugging, thievery, well kind of make that mobile too simply because everything is mobile? And what makes Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt a lot smarter. I’ve got 68 years of being in businesses. I’ve created over 50 businesses and never failed in one. I have recreated the hotel and gaming industry worldwide with a concept of integrated resources. I do not need any more money. Being the 15th richest man in the world does not make incentive to make a couple hundred million dollars more.


On Governor Christie legalizing online gaming in the Garden State:

“I live Governor Christie. I talk to him.  He said he was about to be overridden anyway. He said it was about to be overridden or over-vetoed or whatever you call it. I like Governor Christie, but I’m not making any commitments. I like other candidates as well.”


On whether Governor Christie authorizing online gambling in New Jersey bothers him enough to punish him:

“I don’t reward or punish politicians. It’s not my job. I’m only one vote, but that of my family. I do support a lot of politicians, but I do so because of their ideology and their sharing of values with me… I am not trying to be a dictator. I’m trying to live my live as a normal person. I can speak up because I’m an expert on the subject. The largest gaming and hospitality company in the world. I want to sound boastful, but we earned more money than the top three or four hotel companies combined. We have accomplished an awful lot. I have talked to some politicians about it and they agree with me. It’s the first time in history of their office that a citizen has come in and said, please don’t pass a law that will make more money for me.”



On many being surprised he does not hold it against Gov. Christie:


“People are surprised by a lot of thing I do or don’t do.”


On how he justifies not holding it against Gov. Christie:

“I stand on moral principle. This is a moral issue for me. Morality as described in Webster’s dictionary is to do the right thing, that is not doing the right thing. It is doing the wrong thing.”