Online Gambling Ban Won'’t Help U.S. Economy, Experts Claim

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With the recent elections in Israel, Sheldon Adelson is a name that has been cropping up more and more often in the last few weeks.

The U.S. casino magnate was the main financial backer behind election-winner Benjamin Netanyahu’'s campaign, largely thanks to his funding of the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Ya Hom. But while Adelson may have his hand in publishing, it is his views on online gambling in North America that are attracting the most attention.

Online gambling is currently legal in just three North American states – Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. If it were up to Adelson however, who owns the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, this number would be zero.

The practice, which gives players far more choice in terms of when and where they can gamble, as well as a far more exciting choice of games than those currently available in most land-based casinos, has already proven popular worldwide in continents such as Europe and Africa. In South Africa, Uptown Aces is a hit, thanks to its plethora of slots, table games and online offers. Meanwhile, over in Europe, legislation is changing all the time towards regulating gambling throughout the continent.

Why would Adelson want to change this, then, particularly given the empirical economic benefits? With reports of casino havens such at Atlantic City suffering from competition, analyses have shown that online gambling is actually benefiting the region.

New Jersey became the most recent state to legalize online gambling, back in November 2013, and contrary to what Adelson may believe, the online offering has actually boosted the economy thanks to the monopoly that land-based casinos in this area have over their web-based counterparts. For example, an online host cannot function in New Jersey without partnering with one of the legacy land-based casino companies. It’s a monopoly which works for both industries, and still maintains New Jersey'’s reputation as a gambling haven.

Of course, the threat to Adelson is that his businesses will fail. As the 8th richest man in the world, he owns Las Vegas Sands, which operates the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, as well as The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Adelson has been vocal about his opposition to online gambling in the past, comparing it to the “Wild West” and citing an improper ability to regulate the practice.

The New Jersey example does little to support Adelson’s argument however. With lower running costs, many land-based casinos are using these online alternatives as a chance to extend their remit, rather than seeing it as competition. Adelson may have been successful in helping in Israel’s elections campaigns, but perhaps he should re-think his position on online gambling if he is to be successful with this issue too. 

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