Poker Community has Mixed Feelings Over Sheldon Adelson’s Death

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As we reported on Tuesday, Sheldon Adelson passed away from cancer at age 87. The casino magnate left quite an impression on poker community, but not a good one.

Sheldon Adelson online poker
Sheldon Adelson certainly left his mark on the poker world. (Image: CNN)

Adelson died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a common but often deadly disease that occurs when the lymph-node cells or the lymphocytes begin to multiply uncontrollably, producing cancerous cells that have the abnormal capacity to invade other tissues throughout the body.

He was initially diagnosed with the disease in 2019. Just last week, he took a leave of absence from his role as CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp to receive cancer treatment. But days later, the Republican megadonor died of complications from that treatment.

Despite the casino owner’s passing, many in the poker community won’t let bygones be bygones. As such, some of the comments on social media were harsh towards the deceased billionaire. Take Vanessa Selbst, for example.

“The best thing I can say about Sheldon Adelson was that he was such a POS that he unified the two disparate circles in my life–progressive liberals and poker players (in our immense amount of hatred for him). May his death be a sign of better things to come for both communities,” Selbst wrote on Twitter.

Why the Harsh Comments Towards Sheldon Adelson?

Adelson built a casino giant and hired 50,000 employees. He paid above industry standard and was known to take care of his employees. Be he was also a detriment to the growth of online poker. One could argue no individual in the world did more harm to the industry and prevent American poker players from playing online.

He lobbied to pass the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) for years. If the bill had passed through Congress, all forms of online gambling would have been illegal at the federal level. Instead, individual states now have the option to legalize online poker.

But only five out of 50 states have done so since Black Friday in 2011, and no other states appear to be close to passing a pro-poker bill. So, while RAWA was shot down in 2017, Adelson’s certainly left his mark on the internet gambling community.

What the Poker Community has to Say

Selbst was far from the only one on poker Twitter taking shots at the deceased Venetian owner. David Lappin, co-host of the Chip Race Podcast, also had some choice words to say.

“I’d like to say how sorry I am to hear about the death of Sheldon Adelson. I’d like to but it’s impossible because he was a tumescent ball-bag. In the end, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was to him what he was to the poker world,” Lappin wrote.

“Sheldon Adelson is as responsible as anyone for the decline/death of online poker in the US. I’m sure he did plenty of other bad stuff. Good riddance,” Twitter user @LitCen1 posted.

Some poker players argued that online poker might grow in the US or become legal at the federal level now that Adelson is gone. But that’s likely wishful thinking. It’s already up to individual states to determine legality, and that process is moving along at a snails pace. Don’t expect that to change any time soon even without Adelson lining the pockets of politicians.

Sean McCormack had a different take. Although he runs the poker room at Aria, a direct competitor to Venetian’s poker room, he found no joy in Adelson’s passing.

Working in poker I all too well know the hurdles Sheldon Adelson created for US online poker. Although our ideologies did not align, in death we cease arguments and pay tribute. Sands Corp. has employed so many here in #LasVegas. Our city remains grateful. Rest In Peace,” McCormack wrote.

McCormack’s take, however, was in the minority on poker Twitter.

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