Adelson hires another lobbying firm in crusade against i-gaming

By Emma Rumney
Casino magnate and G.O.P mega-donor Sheldon Adelson has recruited former Republican congressman Connie Mack and his firm Mack Strategies into his crusade against i-gaming.

Breaking from the majority of the industry, the Las Vegas Sands CEO has vowed to do whatever it takes to wipe out online gambling in the US, no expenses spared.

New lobbying disclosure records show that Mack will be tasked with supporting Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) by lobbying for the Restoration of America’s Wire Act via a federal bill closely tied to Adelson and introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) in April.

The bi-partisan bill would close the loophole that means the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting, as interpreted by the Department of Justice in 2011.

After recently hiring another lobbying firm The Keelen Group, Mack Strategies is to become the second firm in only a few weeks to be recruited by Adelson to lobby on “federal policy issues related to internet gaming”.

Mack is a former Republican member of the House of Representatives for Florida’s 14th district and the ex-husband of Mary Bono, also a former G.O.P house member for California and current pro-online gambling lobbyist for rival group the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (CCOP).

The CCOP was formed last year, shortly after the CSIG, to counter Adelson’s attack on i-gaming along with the Poker Players Alliance.

Adelson’s efforts have had some success with the American Gaming Association (AGA) withdrawing their support for i-gaming due to the dispute between Adelson and competitors such as Caesars – all of whom are members of the association.

A few days ago the CSIG announced it had won the support of the New York Association of Chiefs of Police.

While Adelson cites moral reasons to explain his stubborn opposition to i-gaming, many believe it is to protect his own interests which are invested mostly within land-based casinos.

Overall, seven lobbying firms have been hired by Sands this year to hinder the spread of legalised online gambling.

Politico reports that Adelson has paid over $200,000 to lobbying firms in the first three months of 2014 alone.

A small fee when compared to the more than $90m he donated to the G.O.P in the run up to the last election, not to mention the amounts he is rumoured to have spent convincing political beneficiaries to join his cause since then.

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