Graham Wants to Ban Online Gambling

Graham Wants to Ban Online Gambling March 23, 2014

Sen. Lindsay Graham has decided that we must ban internet gambling at the federal level. By sheer coincidence, I’m sure, he came to this position after Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who wants to rid himself of the competition, started raising big money for his reelection campaign.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says he will soon propose a federal Internet gambling ban, a proposal that mirrors the agenda of his major backer, billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and the Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. This move comes after Adelson and his wife hosted a Graham fundraiser last year.

Graham has not previously made gaming a major policy priority, but did oppose a 2010 proposal to legalize Internet poker. Last month, he told industry news siteGamblingCompliance that he will file a bill to ban to ban all online gambling, nationwide.

Such an effort has been pushed by Adelson, who has called Internet poker “a threat to our society — a toxin which all good people ought to resist,” and dismissed online gambling as “fool’s gold.” Adelson dismissed charges that the competition is bad for his businesses, arguing that “the impact on my company’s business would be limited.” Though Adelson has vigorously opposed online gaming, a coalition of other casinos oppose his proposed ban.

Oh yes, gambling is a toxin, a threat to society — says the man who has made more than $20 billion from gambling. A ball of hypocrisy that big couldn’t fit inside the Grand Canyon. The other big casino companies, like MGM Mirage and Caesar’s Entertainment, are in favor of online gambling. They recognize, correctly, that they can use online poker sites both for short-term profit and to feed customers to their brick and mortar properties. But Adelson sees only competition, so he’s demanding that regulations protect him from it.

But weeks earlier, the Adelsons had given even more help to the senior Senator from South Carolina. Las Vegas Sands PAC sent an additional $5,000 contribution to Team Graham — the legal maximum. And on April 30, 2013, the Adelsons hosted a high-dollar fundraiser for Graham at their Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. According to the event invitation, the Adelsons hosted Graham and “special guest” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at their exclusive “Paiza Club” for an evening reception and policy discussion. The event, which cost $1,000 to attend, exclusively benefited Graham’s re-election campaign.

Adelson may be trying to break some sort of world record for scumbaggery. And Graham is happy to do his bidding for the right price.

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  • Can we stop pretending that the reason certain people dislike gambling is because they think god said it’s naughty? Then, maybe, we can have a discussion about why gambling in casinos is bad math and takes advantage of the ignorant.

    The governments want to have it both ways: they don’t want it because it’s naughty except for where it can be used to extract money from the victims of poor math education, and the loot can be used as a sort of extra tax-stream on hope.

  • I’m sure glad I clicked on this one! Otherwise I’da gone off thinkin’ that you were talkin’ bout FRANKLIN Graham. It’s only logical that I would do that, after all, Frankie Goes to the Holyland cannot be happy that potential donations are being bet against the online “House” instead of being sent to HIS FATHER’S HOUSE (via Franklin’s ministries).

    Adelson IS a scumbag, but compared to Franklin OR Lindsay Graham he’s a small potatoes sorta grafter.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    One of the saddest conversations I ever overhead was a woman at the bus station waiting to board the free casino bus explaining to another person how she took this bus almost every single day after work up to the casino where she gambled the night away, then took the bus back in time for work the next morning. She got almost all her sleep during the bus rides, a daily round trip of about 5 hours.

    But that situation isn’t a toxin, according to Sheldon Adelson. Allowing that woman to gamble at home and sleep in her own bed, that’s the toxin.

  • matty1

    Maybe the best analogy (though still not a great one) would be alcohol. In both cases we know that there are risks of addiction and that there are people who disapprove for moral reasons. The analogy also suggests that online gambling is unlikely to be that much competition for casinos they are different experiences in the same way that having a glass of wine with dinner at home is not like going to a bar. The ‘drug’ may be the same but the experience is different and most people care about the full experience.

  • naturalcynic

    Democommie: Did you forget the amount of cash Adelson blew on the ’12 elections? Maybe you’re right because he blew 10’s of millions on losers in the presidential race. But stil, graft in Macao & China, AIPAC support and anti-union activities put him near the top worldwide.

  • mikeyb

    It’s so transparent isn’t it how the right wing is little to nothing less than a sheer naked contentless tool for corporate America. Too bad the Democrats are just a step or two behind the exact same thing.

  • there are people who disapprove for moral reasons

    What’s a good moral argument against gambling?

    I mean, some people think there’s a great big guy in the sky who doesn’t like gambling, but that’s just authoritarianism; that’s not a moral argument.

  • lorn

    Stopping gambling is a near impossibility. People lay bets. Bans, civil, legal, or religious, have never worked and there is absolutely no hope they ever will. That said I think it is entirely reasonable to regulate the practice to knock the worse of the rough edges off the down sides of any gambling that does go on. Nevada has gone a long way toward making gambling as open and transparent as practicable. They have made the odds, structure and inner workings of the games apparent so that people can make rational and reasonably well informed choices. There is still room for improvement but the system is presently about as fair and open as it can be reasonable expected to be.

    Internet gambling is, on the other hand, completely different. Due to the nature of networks and communications there can be no assurance that any one hand, game, shuffle, or deal is anything resembling both real and fair. The game can be manipulated by anyone handling the feeds in a seamless and undetectable manner. There is simply put, no real and practical way of guaranteeing fairness. All effort to reassure potential players are entirely illusion. Because the entire event is virtual, having no physical presence, there are no objective observers and no practical ways of maintaining any aspect of integrity in the game.

    If you want to gamble do it the old fashion way.

  • matty1

    @7 You are right, that was poor phrasing on my part. I meant that there are people who consider gambling immoral for religious reasons and did not intend to imply that they have a moral argument, or any argument beyond “preacher says no”.

  • Dan Robinson

    I don’t think gambling itself is necessarily immoral. A game among friends where the odds are essentially even except for some games where a degree of skill is involved doesn’t seem bad to me. But the casinos sell a great big lie. And like state lotteries they target poor people with false hopes of a big win. Their ads are appalling. It’s a sucker bet all the way. And they tag that little bit at the end of each ad where the fast talker says, “Gambling problem? Call xxx-xxxx.” I always add in my mind, “And we will tell you where the nearest casino to you is.”

    I heard a piece on NPR some time ago about a person’s experience with a casino. They would call and say, “We haven’t seen you for awhile. When are you coming in?” and much stronger stuff too. it got to the point of serious harassment. I think it might have been “This American Life” but I’m not sure.

    This makes me spitting mad. It’s not good for me at 6 AM. I’m gonna go play my guitar. Fuck these homophobic jeebus lovin racist hypocritical republican assholes.

  • @5:

    I fucking HATE auto-correct. I typed “grifter”–and you are correct he is a major league grafter.

    The difference in scale is not the difference I was thinking of. In Adelson’s case the monies flow from his to teh roobz (well, the first and second levels, perhaps) in the case of pols and preachers it works the other way around.

    “Fuck these homophobic jeebus lovin racist hypocritical republican assholes.”

    In defense of Adelson, I doubt that he’s ever looked with LOVE on JESUS–the rest, though? Spot on.

  • eric


    And like state lotteries they target poor people with false hopes of a big win.

    AIUI, this is simply untrue of the brick-and-mortar casinos. I forget the actual numbers, but they receive the vast majority of their income from the richest 1% of their clientele. The ONLY reason they advertise to us little folk at all is that a busy casino is a lot more attractive to the whales than an empty one. But we are not their main customers, we are simply the window dressing they purchase in order to better bring in their real customers.

    I have no idea whether the same dynamic holds true for online gambling.


    What’s a good moral argument against gambling?

    I think the most common anti-gambling argument is not moral per se, but what you might call the ‘regulatory’ argument: that the government, acting as agent for we the people, has the right to restrict hazardous individual behavior when it has a high indirect collective cost. This is the classic argument used to regulate drug use. YOUR right to inject heroin stops when it dramatically increases crime rates in MY neighborhood. I suspect that such an argument is not very convincing to most of Ed’s readers, but before you pooh-pooh the argument, consider that it’s also the justification for things like seat belt laws, public school requirements for vaccination, and requiring everyone get health care coverage. IOW its a perfectly legitimate form of argument, the key question is whether it should be applied to this particualr behavior.

    To decide that, we need answers to questions like: do we have good evidence that it causes indirect social costs in the first place? What are they – both in terms of type and magnitude? How important to individual freedom is the ‘right to gamble,’ and is removing the indirect social costs worth the loss of this individual freedom? The first two questions can probably be answered by appealing to facts, but the latter two are public policy preferences and are ultimately going to come down to (ideally) a well-informed democratic vote.

    Of course none of what I’ve said above has much to do with Lindsay Graham’s position. What I’ve described might be considered the rational approach to deciding whether to make gambling legal, but Ed is completely right that this particular Senator’s position is just corrupt quid pro quo.

  • Michael Heath

    Dan Robinson @ 10:

    . . . [casinos] target poor people with false hopes of a big win.

    eric @ 12 responds:

    AIUI, this is simply untrue of the brick-and-mortar casinos. I forget the actual numbers, but they receive the vast majority of their income from the richest 1% of their clientele. The ONLY reason they advertise to us little folk at all is that a busy casino is a lot more attractive to the whales than an empty one. But we are not their main customers, we are simply the window dressing they purchase in order to better bring in their real customers.


    High rollers are said to provide only a small fraction of casino “action.” John Eidsmoe, in his book Legalized Gambling: America’s Bad Bet, claims that it is actually gamblers from the lower and lower-middle classes in the United States that provide much of the gambling money. “The occasional wealthy ‘high roller’ does indeed exist, but he is the exception, not the standard. The fact that more than 50% of Nevada’s gambling income comes from slot machines as opposed to the card tables should be an indication high rollers are not the main source of revenue.”[6]

    6] Eidsmoe, John Legalized Gambling; America’s Bad Bet, 1994