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NJ Voters Split on State’s Sports Betting Appeal [AUDIO]

New Jersey is appealing a recent federal court decision to block legalized sports betting in the state.

Sports Betting
PNC, Getty Images

Registered voters are divided on the issue according to today’s statewide poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents say an appeal is a good idea, but 34 percent think the state should back off until the federal law banning sports betting in all but a handful of states is lifted. A fifth are undecided (22 percent). Three-quarters (76 percent) have heard little or nothing at all about the court decision.

“Given the inattention of voters on this issue, opinions either way are likely to be soft,” says Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind. “Yet, it’s certainly notable that the gut reaction of the electorate is one of indecision and hesitancy.”

Regardless of what the federal government says about legalized sports betting in New Jersey, voter opinion remains fairly stable. In July 2012, 58 percent supported legalized sports betting and 29 percent were opposed. Today, 55 percent say they favor the practice with 28 percent opposed.

Men and women are definitely at odds over the issue. By an almost two-to-one margin (48 to 25 percent), men and women differ on support for an appeal with men far more likely than women to want the state to challenge the federal court ruling. Men are also a lot more likely to support sports betting in general, with almost two-thirds of men (62 percent) favoring it as compared with nearly half of women (49 percent).

It should come as no surprise that those who have gambled recently are more likely to support legalized sports betting in the Garden State.

Having been to a casino in the last year or betting on sports in an office pool are experiences that separate people from their non-wagering friends and colleagues. Forty-eight percent of those who have been to a casino favor an appeal compared with a third of those who have not been to a casino in the recent past, and 42 percent of office pool bettors support an appeal compared with a third (33 percent) who haven’t wagered on sports with co-workers.

Double digits also separate those who have been to a casino or bet on sports in the office recently from those who have not when it comes to legalized sports betting. Seventy-seven percent of casino-goers want to bet on sports legally compared with 49 percent who haven’t been to a casino recently, and two thirds (67 percent) of office bettors support legalization compared with 49 percent who have not participated in an office pool.

“This is an issue that’s been followed closely by a variety of players,” explains said Donald Hoover, a professor in FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and a former casino executive. “Atlantic City casinos and a few racetracks are poised to benefit from a revenue and visitation boon, but professional and collegiate sports organizations have challenged the state’s decision for fear that it will cause integrity issues with respect to the athletes and the games that they play.”

The poll of 702 registered voters in New Jersey was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from Sept. 30 through Oct. 5, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.

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