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Poker news | Jan 26, 2021

Sheldon Adelson Passes Away at Age 87 – Thoughts from Poker Players

By RTR Dennis

665x200 jan21 sheldon adelson

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson recently passed away at the age of 87. The Las Vegas Sands CEO died after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Adelson received the diagnosis that he had cancer in 2019. Despite having this deadly disease, he managed to continue running his business until early 2021.

At this point, Adelson had to take a leave of absence to receive cancer treatments. He passed away shortly thereafter.

Some in the Poker Community Are Still Bitter Towards Adelson

Sheldon Adelson became infamous for his efforts to ban online poker in the US. Some prominent poker players still haven’t forgiven him for this—even in passing.

Vanessa Selbst hated Adelson both for his stance on iPoker and his massive donations to the Republican party. She tweeted that he was, “Such a POS that he unified the two disparate circles in my life—progressive liberals and poker players (in our immense amount of hatred for him.”

Irish poker player David Lappin didn’t have kind words for the deceased casino owner either. Lappin noted that, “Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was to him what he was to the poker world.”

Why the Dislike for Adelson Among Poker Players?

Despite accumulating a $33 billion fortune over his lifetime, Sheldon Adelson was willing to spread the wealth. He routinely paid his 50,000+ employees more than the gaming industry average.

Adelson may have been liked among his employees for this, but he didn’t win many friends in the poker community.

In the mid-2010s, he put forth a major effort to stop the spread of legal US online poker. Adelson sought to have the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA)—a federal ban on internet gambling—passed in the US.

He lobbied Congress members with generous campaign donations in an effort to push RAWA through. If this happened, it would’ve shut down online casino games, poker, and sports betting on a federal level.

Ultimately, RAWA failed to garner serious consideration among most politicians. The few proponents, including Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and now-retired Jason Chaffetz, weren’t able to draw a vote for this bill.

What Drove Adelson to Try and Stop Online Poker?

Sheldon Adelson claimed that legal online gambling would produce countless addicts. He conveniently said that putting a casino in each person’s home was far more detrimental than land-based casinos. He also labeled internet gambling as “fool’s gold” and used phrases like “click your mouse and lose your house.”

The reality, though, is that he feared what online gambling would do to his business more than anything. Adelson worried that more-convenient forms of casinos and poker could ultimately shutter land-based gaming venues.

He did gain traction with his goal after the Department of Justice claimed that the federal Wire Act applied to all forms of online gambling in 2019. However, states successful fought this opinion and refused to comply by it.

Whether any other billionaires pick up the fight against iPoker remains to be seen. For now, though, it doesn’t seem like any big opponents are on the horizon.