Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson harshly criticizes Internet gambling

Industries Associated Press

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson repeated his distaste for Internet gambling during a talk Wednesday night at the G2E Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, saying there was no reason casinos should be in the pockets of every single American.

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"You cannot know your customer on the Internet," he said. He posed a hypothetical situation involving a person of legal age signed in on a mobile device to an online game who then passed the device off to a minor.

Adelson is the CEO and chairman of the Sands Corp.

His harsh rebuke of legalized Internet gambling prompted scattered applause in the crowd of casino industry members. Sitting in the front row was fellow billionaire and casino mogul Steve Wynn who spoke the night before.

Throughout the talk that touched on topics such as international gambling destination Macau and New Jersey's troubled casino industry, Adelson explained why he wasn't interested in vying for a casino license in Boston like Wynn who won the chance to build a hotel-casino downtown.

Adelson said his business model which includes massive hotel-casinos and meeting spaces wouldn't work in Boston. As for New Jersey, Adelson said he would be interested in revamping the Meadowlands Sports Complex in northern New Jersey depending on what the government there was looking to do.

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As a significant fundraiser for the Republican Party, Adelson has been considered a polarizing figure.

Lately he's been been vocal about his distaste for online gambling and desire for the federal government to ban it.

Critics have said it's because Internet gambling could be steep competition for Adelson's physical casinos. Adelson reasoned Wednesday that it was because there's no knowing who was gambling and no way to keep people who shouldn't, from doing so. He said he didn't want other families to suffer the "scourges" of gambling like his family did. He said his father was a gambler.

The annual expo held this year at Adelson's Sands Expo and Convention Center has been known to attract 26,000 people in the casino business.

Adelson recently dropped a spot to 12th on the Forbes list of the richest people in the U.S. despite being worth nearly $3 billion more than the year before. Forbes places his worth at $31.4 billion.