Steve Wynn’s Relationship with Online Gambling: It’s Complicated

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Mar/10/2017

Once again, Wynn Resorts has a different stance on legalized online gambling. A representative of Wynn Resorts told Massachusetts regulators that their company wouldn’t oppose efforts to legalize Internet gambling as long as only land-based, licensed casinos could offer this service.

Steve Wynn’s opinion on Internet gambling has shifted back and forth over the years, seemingly in accordance with what best helps his company’s bottom line. He was quoted in 2009 saying that Internet gambling “would be impossible to regulate.” Also, representatives from Wynn Resorts openly suggested that online gambling could cannibalize the profits of brick & mortar casinos.

Wynn Resorts subsequently entered into a partnership agreement in March of 2011 with the prized jewel of the offshore gambling industry, PokerStars. At that point, online gambling was illegal at both the state and federal level. However, Wynn and other casino owners were lobbying for a change. He told The Los Angeles Times:

"We must recognize that this activity is occurring and that law enforcement does not have the tools to stop it.... It is time that the thousands of jobs created by this business and the potentially significant tax dollars come home to the U.S."

However, the infamous “Black Friday” indictments were issued one month later. That forced Wynn to dissolve his partnership with PokerStars. Nonetheless, his rhetoric on this issue remained somewhat pragmatic and fell in line with laissez-faire economics. He told reporters in 2013 that it was impractical to outlaw online poker. He even compared it to the prohibition of alcohol. In that same year, Wynn Resorts applied for online gambling license in New Jersey.

His company was approved for a license in early 2014, but Steve Wynn never exercised that option. In fact, he was quite critical of online gambling’s potential revenues in an interview with Nevada journalist, Jon Ralston, in February of 2014. He said, “Where is the business opportunity? The big problem I see is I don’t see the government letting us keep the money.”

In that same interview, he also firmly asserted that Internet gambling couldn’t be regulated properly to block underage people from using this technology. Hence, he prophesized that such a scandal would ultimately ruin the reputation of the entire gambling industry. Nonetheless, he was noncommittal whether he would openly lobby against the legalization of online gambling.

By October of 2014, Wynn had take it a step further. He publicly praised Sheldon Adelson’s opposition to online gambling at the Global Gaming Expo. In fact, he stated that he “shared Adelson’s conviction.”

Again, as mentioned earlier, Wynn’s representatives expressed a softer take on this issue earlier this week in regard to their Massachusetts facility. We’ll have to wait and see if that stance remains the same in the future.

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Bio

Brian Saady is the author of the upcoming three-book series, Rackets, which is about the legalization of drugs & gambling, and the decriminalization of prostitution. www.briansaady.com

You can follow him on Twitter @briansaady

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