The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, an anti-online poker group that is backed by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is making moves to exploit ongoing data privacy concerns to drive its agenda. This comes in the wake of Facebook’s recent scandal that will see the media company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, testify before a seething Congress this Wednesday.
The coalition has been criticizing the regulated online gaming industry’s advertisements in an effort to discredit it. At the moment, only four states in the U.S have approved regulated online casino gaming – this number is bound to grow in 2018 as more states are considering tapping into the lucrative online gambling market.
Adelson believes that that regulated and legal online casino gaming will in one way or the other hurt his brick-and-mortar casino empire, which is apparently the largest in the world. In addition to this, the Las Vegas Sands owner pointed out that internet gambling has societal costs that will become more pronounced if it is allowed to grow any further. His distaste for online poker is, however, no secret as he has for years funded efforts to reinstate a 1960s law that was altered by the Obama Department of Justice in favour of the states and online gambling.
Considering how extremely difficult it is to move bills through Congress, the coalition has always tried to find backdoors to drive its legislative agenda which have been dubbed the “restoration of America’s Wire Act” or “RAWA.” Ongoing concerns pertaining to advertising and data privacy have presented such a backdoor for the anti-online poker group. They are highlighting the fact that data-driven online casino advertisements follow users as they browse the web – and to them, this warrants a ban on the online casino industry. This is regardless of the state regulations that have been implemented in order to act as safeguards to mitigate against underage gambling and bad gambling habits
Fear Mongering and Opportunism
Prominent online gaming attorney and founder of iDEA Jeff Ifrah finds the coalition’s efforts to be rather puzzling – iDEA is the first online gaming trade commission in North America.
“It’s irony on steroids that a special interest group who claims to be concerned about data privacy is planning to wage a targeted campaign via Facebook in light of recent revelations regarding Facebook’s data privacy challenges,” Ifrah said. “Facebook is virtually unregulated—just like illegal offshore online gambling today. The companies that we represent—and the members of the iDEA trade association—advocate legalized, regulated online gaming so that consumers can play the games they love in a safe environment that is overseen by state regulations and provided by reputable companies who respect their privacy and protect their financial data.”
In his perspective, Ifrah dismissed the coalition efforts as nothing more than fear-mongering and opportunism that is aimed at exploiting this period when federal lawmakers are critical of the internet itself. He asserts that Facebook’s woes, in fact, make the case for more online regulation, not less like Adelson and company want.