Trump won the election with rhetoric like Drain the Swamp and Make America Great Again. Whether he will do either is anybody’s guess, but he has a target rich environment in DC.
Washington DC is teaming with all sorts of swamp creatures. Alligators, frogs, cheats, liars, and very corruptible cronies. When I think of congress I’m reminded of a movie quote from an old favorite, Romancing the Stone. The main character Jack Colton displays an attitude found rampant in our swamp, I mean, Congress.
In the movie, when Jack Colton is confronted with selling his services, he states: “I’m not cheap, but I can be had.” That statement quite literally sums up the attitude of much of Congress all the way to the top, on both sides of the aisle.
Sheldon Adelson knows how much it takes to get things done in DC. He also knows who to talk to. Mr. Adelson owns brick and mortar casinos in Las Vegas and all around the world. He the Chief Executive of the Las Vegas Sands and he is widely known as Billionaire with a capital “B”.
Since Mr. Adelson is the head of a gambling empire, it’s not as if he is piously against gambling when he decides to hire politicians to end online gambling. He is simply taking out his competition. He’s been trying to have the tools of government outlaw online gaming for years. The difficult part is found in the fact that the consumers love it.
Online gaming thrives. It is heavily regulated already to protect the consumer, but people who gamble enjoy doing it on their computers in the comfort of their own homes. That doesn’t fit into the whole “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” mantra. It doesn’t get people spending money in Adelson owned casinos. It is however, a perfectly legal form of business providing a product to consumers.
In the old days, a rival casino owner could be killed or threatened. A competing gaming room could be burned to the ground. But what to do when your competition floats in the cloud?
The only way to eliminate your competition in the tech age is to enlist friends in high places of government. Literally, the day after Sheldon Adelson and wife gave $20 million to a GOP Super Pac, the Senate Leadership Fund, which is run by Steven Law, legislation to outlaw online gaming was introduced. It’s purely coincidence of course that Steven Law happens to have formerly been Chief of Staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
In the Senatorial swamp, Adelson knows exactly how to grease a wheel. Pay the right people and very quietly his minions brought forth a bill that would effectively eliminate online gaming once and for all. The bill was introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and co-sponsored by Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sorry folks, yes, even beloved Mike Lee is listed here. It’s a swamp alright…everyone gets dirty if you stay in it long enough.
My dad used to say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Looks like he was right in this situation. These Senators have been trying to do right by their benefactor Adelson for a while now to no avail. In 2015, Graham introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. A bill that was intended to prohibit financial institutions from processing online gaming transactions with no luck.
While everyone is focused on Trump, some of the strongest gators in the swamp are looking to shore up their Vegas support and sneak the newly revamped online gaming ban into an end of the year appropriations bill. Ending the year with a secretive measure that dismantles a thriving business is a betrayal of conservative core values.
With GOP leadership like this in the US Senate, draining that swamp is not going to be easy.