Steve Wynn at G2E Shares Concerns About Online Poker

October 3rd, 2014 | by Brian Corlisse
Steve Wynn at G2E

Steve Wynn expressed his concerns about online gambling after his keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo this week. (Image: EPA/Alex Hofford)

Steve Wynn used the keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) this week to reiterate his position against online gambling, including online poker. In the Tuesday address, Wynn once again shared an opinion that, while not as extreme as that of Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, was similarly opposed to Internet gambling in most forms.

Wynn answered a question from the audience following his keynote, read by American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman. The question asked Wynn what his thoughts were about Internet gaming, and Wynn gave a rather direct answer in response.

“Not much,” Wynn started, then expounded further on the matter.

Business Opportunity or Obstacle?

Wynn talked about how many of the people he respects in the gaming industry have been passionate about the need to prepare for Internet gambling, lest they get left behind, but Wynn says that he has always had his doubts.

“Where’s the business opportunity?” Wynn asked. “You got all these states miserably hungry for revenue…you think they’re going to let the private enterprise get this money? Baloney.”

Wynn also added that the government will eventually see online poker and casino gambling as “the single most unsympathetic tax target on the planet. They’ll tax your brains out,” he said.

Serious Consequences for Incidents

Wynn also said he shared Adelson’s concerns over what could go wrong if Internet gambling became widespread.

“I don’t like Internet gambling,” Wynn said. “I share Sheldon Adelson‘s conviction that some kid will get a hold of his parent’s credit card, or some guy will pull some baloney, and cause havoc in his community.”

Wynn went on to say that those who have ethical or religious conviction would use such incidents against legislators who supported Internet poker.

“The legislator that votes for legalized Internet gaming, he has nothing really to gain from it, but if he votes for it, and anything goes wrong in that community, he’s going to get blamed for it. That’s why there’s no support for it in the House of Representatives,” Wynn said.

Wynn also worried that if such an incident were to take place, it would result in stronger regulation of the gaming industry, potentially reaching beyond the Internet and even to brick-and-mortar casinos as well.

“Add all those factors together, and I take a pass on the Internet,” Wynn concluded.

The comments left little doubt that Wynn’s position is now strongly anti-online poker. But that wasn’t always the case. Over the years, Wynn’s position has changed on Internet gambling a few times, with his opposition traditionally being based on the idea that online gambling could potentially embarrass the industry and could be adequately regulated.

But in 2011, Wynn was quoted as saying that online gaming should indeed be regulated, as it was a better alternative than allowing the industry to grow in the shadows.

“We must recognize that this activity is occurring and that law enforcement does not have the tools to stop it,” he said when Wynn Resorts had briefly partnered with PokerStars to help push for federal Internet poker regulation. “It is time that the thousands of jobs created by this business and the potentially significant tax dollars come home to the US.”

That partnership was scuttled after the events of Black Friday, which occurred just a few days after those comments were made. By earlier this year, Wynn had returned to fearing the potential dangers of online gambling, as well as questioning its potential as a revenue stream.

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