Lesniak vs. Adelson: N.J. senator battles mogul’s anti-internet gaming lobbying

TRENTON – A state senator wants to rally all available New Jersey resources to save internet gaming.

Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Union, called Tuesday for the state’s congressional delegation, its casino industry, business community and other public officials to wage the battle for an initiative that he said means jobs and revenue for Atlantic City.

Lesniak issued the clarion call after Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino mogul, announced he would launch a lobbying effort to stop internet gaming.

“Adelson has started a campaign to shut down New Jersey’s internet gaming which will cost the loss of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of revenues to Atlantic City’s ailing casinos and hundreds of millions of dollars to the state treasury,” Lesnia said in a release announcing his call to action.

“We already have given the legal authority for Internet gaming in New Jersey and state regulators have done a good job in reviewing and authorizing licenses for online gaming businesses. Imposing a federal ban on internet gambling for New Jersey would be an economic catastrophe.”

Lesniak and Sen. Jim Whelan, (D-2), Atlantic City are the sponsors of the state internet gaming law. The bills in the Senate and Assembly – A2578/S1565 – passed the Legislature and became law early this year.

Adelson said internet gaming must be stopped in order to protect children, but critics have said he merely is more concerned with his own revenues at casinos.

Lesniak said that Adelson has hired high-powered lobbyists and public relations experts in Washington and around the country to pursue his goal of outlawing Internet gaming.

Those hired include Wellington Webb, the former mayor of Denver; former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, former New York Governor George Pataki and the Washington lobbying firms Patton Boggs and Husch Blackwell.

“Mr. Adelson, you should take your campaign and direct it where gambling has the most negative impact – lottery sales,” said Lesniak. “Convenience stores sell lottery tickets right across from low income housing projects.

“You should put your billions to work helping those folks get good paying jobs and job training and to support preschool education funding.

“And shame on you, Governor Pataki. You promoted selling lottery tickets to poor people but now that you’re getting paid big money, you’ve ‘gotten religion’ about gambling.”

Associated Press reported on Monday that Adelson is working to persuade Congress to ban internet gaming.

In addition to New Jersey’s law, approximately 12 other states are in various stages of considering it. 

Adelson reportedly will launch a coalition that will highlight the dangers of internet gaming to youth and poor people.

To this point, Adelson is probably best known for his heavy campaign spending last year.

Lesniak vs. Adelson: N.J. senator battles mogul’s anti-internet gaming lobbying