Gaming insights Gaming

Analysing Adelson’s “witch hunt” comment

Written by Andrew W Scott

Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO and Sands China Chairman and soon-to-be CEO Sheldon Adelson was on the publicity trail last week – with a public talk with students at Macau’s Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) and an interview with Macau Daily Times.

Both events had Adelson ramming home the same message about his company being the leading non-gaming concessionaire in Macau, the importance of the MICE industry and so forth. Given the tougher times the industry is experiencing right now I commend Mr Adelson for speaking to the press and making his opinions known.

But it was Adelson’s characterization of the Chinese central government’s crackdown on corruption as a “witch hunt” that caught my eye. While the Xi Jinping-led crackdown is certainly one of a laundry list of factors hurting the Macau gaming industry right now, calling it as a “witch hunt” smacks of sour grapes to me.

A “witch hunt” describes an unfair search-and-destroy program targeting innocent victims, generating a moral panic and a change in public behavior by labeling those innocents as wrongdoers. The anti-communist McCarthyist era of 1950s America is a perfect example.

Is Mr Adelson implying that President Xi Jinping’s crackdown is somehow unjustified or being used to purge political enemies rather than really cleaning up a China that I think everyone agrees needed cleaning?