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America Is Okay With Sports Betting [AUDIO]

In New Jersey, a lawsuit continues to allow sports betting at Atlantic City casinos.

Sports Betting in NJ
Flickr User Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

According to a national poll released today by by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, a majority of registered voters favor legalizing sports betting in states where it is not currently legal.

“We asked voters across the country if they supported the expansion of sports betting into new states,” explains Dan Cassino, a political science professor at FDU and director of experimental research for the PublicMind poll. “We found a majority of voters, 51% said that they do. One-third of voters, 33% nationwide were against the expansion with the remainder being undecided.”

The controversy over sports betting erupted after the New Jersey legislature passed laws allowing sports betting in the state, despite federal laws which limit sports betting to the four states that had permitted it before federal regulation was introduced. New Jersey has sued to have the federal law limiting sports betting overturned, even as the NCAA has pulled all tournaments out of the state in response.

As in prior polls, men (60%) far outpace women (43%) in their support. While the 60+ age category is the only category showing less than a majority support (40%), even this figure is up significantly (from 27%) in the 2010 poll on the same topic.

“These national figures are similar to what we’ve seen in our recent polls of New Jersey voters,” says Krista Jenkins, director of the poll and professor of political science at FDU. “New Jersey is moving forward with its plans for sports betting in early 2013, despite federal lawsuits by the NBA, MLB and others to block it.”

Supporters of sports betting have argued that betting is already happening, just illegally, and results of the survey tend to support that argument.

“20% of American men admit that they are already betting on sports whether it’s through office pools or something like that,” explains Cassino. “And among them, 80% say that they want to expand legalized sports betting.”

Americans are not as quick to support all new gambling ideas, as only a quarter (27%) favor allowing states to run betting games online, but even this number is up from the 2010 poll, when only 21 percent favored such a measure. Once again, support from men (36%) is almost double that of women (19%). The two older age categories, 45-59 (24%) and 60+ (14%) are among the least likely to show support for online gaming.

Jenkins says, “It’s a real crap shoot. On one side are economic benefits to a state, yet on the other is the concern that online gaming will make it too easy for individuals to get caught up in gambling.”

The poll of 814 registered voters was conducted nationally by telephone with both landline and cell phones from December 10 through December 16, 2012, and has a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points.

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