Online poker legalization debate in California could transform into a battle between PokerStars and Sheldon Adelson.
It seems that the battle for the legalization of California online poker sites in the United States is very intense. Not only is it fought in the Legislature, but huge marketing campaigns are ready to take center stage pretty soon.
The statistics and detailed information about the various strategies in the state Legislature have been widely discussed and are still being covered in American gambling news. But there are now rumors that there is much more to the story than it seemed in the beginning.
Sheldon Adelson and PokerStars’ involvement
Everyone concerned with the change in American gambling laws, already knows that Sheldon Adelson, the renowned land-based gambling tycoon, is heavily sponsoring anti-online movement. He is generally against the legalization of online business in the USA, and especially opposing PokerStars involvement.
Sheldon Adelson is rumored to specifically attack PokerStars in California
•California is still debating possible change to American gambling laws
•Online poker legalization is supported by state residents
•Adelson is preparing a marketing campaign against online gambling
Adelson has recently empowered his man Andy Abboud to present a long-list of anti-online gambling points before California legislative hearing. Naturally, the legislative body has been looking at both sides of the coin, but having Adelson’s money backing your claim is a huge advantage.
PokerStars is based on the Isle of Man, but plays a huge part in the online poker legalization debate in California. The company has already formed an alliance with Indian tribes and poker rooms in the state in hopes of finally receiving legal status in the US, where it has been banned from after Black Friday. Should online poker become a reality in the state, PokerStars will naturally want to carve a big piece of the market pie for itself.
Conflict of interests
Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands Corp. has spent almost $200,000 during the last six months on high-end lobbying with Mercury Public Affairs in Sacramento alone. We can only speculate how much the casino tycoon has spent lobbying against online gambling on a higher level in Washington.
Sheldon Adelson is also sponsoring the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling efforts in California. He was quoted promising to spend “whatever it takes” to put an end to online gambling in the country.
It doesn’t seem to matter to Adelson that California voters support online gambling legalization according to latest polls. His company is planning to start a huge advertising campaign in the state against legalization. The marketing efforts are first expected to appear on the internet and then move on to cable and broadcast TV.
The adverts are expected to be on the lines of scare tactics focusing on problems of underage gambling. According to some sources, the marketing campaign will be a direct attack on PokerStars. The source quotes the upcoming ad: “If they get their way, gambling will be available in every home, every bedroom, every dorm room, on every phone, tablet and computer everywhere, 24-7. Targeting families, kids, the elderly.”
However, it is clear that Adelson is not the only one spending money on lobbying. It is said that various gambling interests, mostly Indian tribes operating casinos have spent almost half a million in April alone supporting political parties, candidates and legislators in charge of gambling laws change.
Naturally, PokerStars is also involved in supporting their interest in California, however, the poker operators can only do so through their partners registered in the state.
Who will win the battle?
It is too early to tell what the outcome of the online poker legalization struggle will be. There’s no clear date set for the final vote on bill for and against online poker in the state. Not to mention that there’s another amendment to laws banning online gambling as a whole submitted on a federal level.
The recent polls in the state suggest that California residents support the idea of online poker legalization. But that can easily change, provided the campaign by Adelson will be successful. On the other hand, state legislators understand that tax dollars coming in from prospective online operators will be very helpful to state coffers. Time will tell.