Las Vegas Sands multi-billionaire owner Sheldon Adelson has thrown millions of dollars into the campaigns of political leaders across the country and is now using the power he has built up in the system to lead the country towards making Internet gambling illegal on a federal level.
Not only has Adelson and his money done a phenomenal job so far at stopping the proliferation of online gambling on the state level, his ultimate goal will be to create a federal law that completely prohibits the entertainment.
One state Adelson's scary amount of power might be revealed first is in Pennsylvania. A study was ordered last year by the state and was released on Wednesday. It studied the future viability of online gaming in the state and concluded Pennsylvania could reap $307 million in tax revenue annually.
This projected tax revenue could be enough to excite Pennsylvania law-makers into action, however there is a catch. Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company has a casino in Pennsylvania, which has been creating tax revenue for the state, and has been expanding, since it opened its doors in 2009. The lobbying money Adelson has used to benefit that casino already has created close relationships with lawmakers in the state, which will only further help his new crusade - to stop Internet gambling.
With such clear momentum pointing towards legalization in Pennsylvania, any turn around or stoppage of the momentum will be directly attributed to the efforts of Adelson and will go against the people's apparent desires, as well as the state's need for tax revenue.
This situation has already bared itself in Florida, where pro-poker enthusiasts assumed the game would be legal and taxed in the state within a couple years, post UIGEA. All efforts, however, have seemed to die without a noise in the media - ever since Adelson's Sands decided it wanted to build a mega-casino in Miami.
Coincidence? Well, probably not.
"It just takes some logical thinking while analyzing the numbers," according to Mark Lewis, Florida gaming analyst.
Governor Rick Scott is up for reelection in 2014 and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Adelson (contributed from Adelson to Scott's various political committees). As a sign of support by Scott, he sent out a letter to law-makers in April emphasizing the importance of keeping internet gambling from becoming legal in the state.
Adelson is using the 'hurts children and families' stance to defend his position, and thus every letter from governors to law-makers, including the one Scott sent, emphasizes that stance.
"Although that is the stance he makes to the public, his obvious desire is to protect his casinos on land," Lewis said. Lewis points out that in places like the UK, where online gambling is regulated, it has been studied and proven that regulations provide more protections for children and problem gamblers than prohibition.
"If he really cared about families and children and how gambling online could ruin their lives, than he would want regulations so they can be protected," Lewis suggested.
"One must simply look at where Adelson throws his money and follow the actions of the political leaders he backs to understand that Adelson is the one in control of Internet gambling's destiny," Lewis said, "the politicians are simply his puppets."