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Former pro-internet poker advocate Willie Brown joins Adelson's Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling

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er mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown has changed sides in the US online gaming debate, joining casino mogul Sheldon Adelson in his fight to thwart proposals to legalise internet gambling.

In an open letter Brown announced last week that he will be the new national co-chair and California chair of the Adelson-funded Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, in contrast to his previous efforts to support the legalisation of online poker in the Golden State.

Brown wrote: "I am proud to lead the California coalition because I believe that we should not move forward with this internet poker experiment. It is unsafe, untrustworthy, and preys on kids.

"I was once on the wrong side of this issue - speaking for and supporting internet poker - but I have since learned about some of the repulsive tactics used by online gambling companies. The turning point for me came when I was shown information documenting how internet gambling companies, including offshore companies, specifically target our children."

Brown said there are a "multitude of reasons" to oppose online gaming, including concerns that the technology can aid money launderers or terrorist groups, the "predatory marketing tactics" featuring "cartoonish characters and comic book heroes" which target children, and the tax revenue figures for states that have already legalised, which compared to expectations leave much to be desired.

Three states - Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware - have already legalised online gaming. There are currently two bills in California legislature that would legalise internet poker within the state. A hearing last month on the issue featuring extensive expert testimony sparked no action on either.

The US is split by the debate with many remaining confident that there is much room for growth in the country's online gaming industry despite its slow start, which is being blamed on a number of technical hiccups, a lack of awareness and illegal gambling websites, among other issues.

Adelson, CEO of massive brick-and-mortar casino developer Las Vegas Sands, has been making his position on the topic clear – splashing out on lobbyists, sympathetic politicians, bill proposals and advertising campaigns towards the cause and vowing to spend "whatever it takes" to prevent the expansion of internet gambling.

The LA Times reports that a spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling said they were unsure whether Brown had been compensated for his change of mind.

Nevertheless, Brown now too pledges that he will "fight relentlessly to halt any expansion of internet gambling" before it ensnares the country's young people.
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