WASHINGTON — Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose record-breaking campaign spending in 2012 made him an icon of the new super-donor era, is leveraging that status in an escalating feud with industry rivals over the future of gambling.
Adelson, a Boston native best known for building casino resorts in Nevada and more recently in Asia, wants to persuade Congress to ban Internet betting. He says the practice is a danger to society and could tarnish the industry’s traditional business model.
Nearly all of his competitors, including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, disagree. They say regulated Internet gambling can be done safely and help the industry.
To make his point, Adelson is preparing a public campaign to portray online gambling as a danger to children, the poor, and others who could be exploited by easy access to Internet betting.
Three states have moved to legalize online gambling, with New Jersey scheduled to go live this month. At least a dozen others are expected to consider it next year.
The new push against Internet gambling is Adelson’s biggest foray into a legislative debate directly related to his business, and it tests the influence a mega-donor can exert.