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Sports Betting Should Be State’s Decision, Say NJ Voters [AUDIO]

If New Jersey wants to legalize sports betting, it should be allowed to and the federal government should not have a say in the matter.

Sports Betting in NJ
Flickr User Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

That’s what New Jersey voters are telling Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind in a new survey out this morning.

There’s an ongoing battle between New Jersey, the NCAA, and the federal government over the Garden State’s decision to allow legalized sports betting in defiance of federal law that prohibits it from doing so.

“Right now, only a few of states are permitted to allow legalized sports betting, and New Jersey is not one of them,” explains Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “New Jersey voters clearly see this as an example of federal overreach into state sovereignty.”

New Jersey voters are clearly on the side of the state. Although three-quarters (77 percent) say they’ve heard “little” or “nothing at all” about the recent federal ruling that stops New Jersey from permitting legalized sports betting in the state, nearly eight-in-ten believe the decision to regulate gambling, both on sports and overall, should be left to the states and not the federal government.

“In a rare moment of agreement, voters of both parties agree the federal government should stay out of the matter and let New Jersey have its spoils,” Jenkins says.

A majority of Garden Staters agree that legal betting on college sports teams will corrupt college athletic programs (60 percent), fewer say the same about the likelihood of professional sports teams’ corruption (42 percent).

New Jerseyans are also concerned about what the practice will do to the social fabric of society, as 57 percent agree that legalized sports betting is likely to increase compulsive gambling and hurt individuals and families.

Sports Betting And The Gender Gap

Two-thirds of women (68 percent) believe college athletic programs will be corrupted by the legalization of sports betting, as compared with about half (52 percent) of men.

Similarly, more women (47 percent) than men (38 percent) believe professional athletic programs will be corrupted by legalized sports betting, and women also express more concern over the harm it could cause to families and children through a caregiver’s compulsive gambling (61 percent vs. 54 percent).

“Although it might be tempting to chalk gender differences up to the greater exposure men have to gambling, that’s simply not the case,” says Jenkins. “About equal numbers of men and women have been to a casino or slots parlor in the past 12 months, and the sexes are about as likely to have participated in an office sports pool in the recent past.”

“You can’t infer that men are simply more comfortable with gambling and therefore less concerned about expanded opportunities to gamble.”

The statewide survey of 702 registered voters was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from March 4th through March 10th, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.

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