Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson is “morally opposed” to online gambling, calling it a “toxin” that will rob the young and poor.
“It’s a train wreck, it’s a toxicity, it’s a cancer waiting to happen,” Adelson said today on Bloomberg Television’s “Money Moves With Deirdre Bolton.”
Adelson, who controls the world’s biggest casino company by market value, also outlined his objections to online gambling in an opinion piece in Forbes yesterday. The Internet betting option is gaining momentum as U.S. states seek to tax a business forecast to generate billions of dollars. In February, New Jersey became the most-populous U.S. state to legalize online gambling, following Nevada and Delaware.
“Younger people, people who can’t afford it, can gamble while they’re on a subway or a bus or a passenger in a car, or while they’re lying in bed in their birthday suits on their smartphone or on their iPad,” Adelson said. “What is the purpose of putting a casino on everybody’s kitchen table?”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in February online gambling would help Atlantic City’s struggling casinos, and projected an 85 percent increase in state casino revenue from online gaming and an economic recovery. New Jersey casinos must get a permit to offer online betting, as do third parties that want to offer services through the existing operators.
Adelson, a donor to Republican candidates, said Christie’s backing of online gambling won’t affect how he decides future financial support for the politician. Las Vegas Sands, which doesn’t have a New Jersey casino, got about 4 percent of its $3.3 billion in first-quarter revenue from its property in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“I don’t reward or punish politicians,” Adelson said on Bloomberg TV. “It’s not my job. I’m only one vote, plus that of my family. I do support a lot of politicians, but I do so because of their ideology and the sharing of values with me.”
Adelson also argued that poker, a popular online activity, isn’t a skills-based game and may be more addictive than other gambling. Players at brick-and-mortar casinos are supervised and must physically visit the casino. Online, access, behavior, state of mind and losses are uninhibited, he said.
“You can also make the argument for legalizing heroin and cocaine and prostitution -- you can legalize, creating a lot of sin tax just so that the government can earn money,” he said. “That’s not a good reason to inflict our society with gaming addiction.”
Casino stocks fell with the decline in the broader market. Las Vegas Sands (LVS), with resorts in Nevada, Macau and Singapore, declined 4.6 percent to $53.88 at the close in New York. Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) retreated 4.1 percent to $132.17 and Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR) lost 5.2 percent to $12.47.
Adelson owns 51 percent of Las Vegas Sands. He is the 16th richest person in the world and is worth $27.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The casino executive won’t pursue Internet gambling despite the opportunity to profit. Caesars and MGM Resorts International (MGM) are establishing online businesses and “see it as an opportunity to potentially solve some of their financial difficulties,” he said.
“They say ‘Ok if I don’t do this I’m going to get hurt anyway, so I might as well try it’,” Adelson said. “I can afford to be honest and moral without taking money into consideration, and that’s what I’m doing.”
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