The results of a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll first reported on by Wayne Parry of the Associated Press do not bode well for online gambling advocates, as respondents were decidedly opposed to legalizing online gambling by over a two-to-one margin; 27% for and 63% against, with 10% undecided or without opinion.
These numbers have remained static since 2010 according to Farleigh Dickinson.
The online gambling questions were part of a larger poll dealing with vices, and were balanced with questions regarding the potential legalization of marijuana, which received far more receptive responses; people were split about 50/50 when it came to legalizing pot.
Awareness is lacking
One important aspect of the poll that may begin to explain the results being skewed against online gambling was the level of awareness regarding the issue.
In regards to both pot and online gambling the respondents were asked ” How much have you heard or read about this…?” With the choices being: A lot, some, just a little, and nothing at all.
For pot 58% of respondents said “a lot,” but for online gambling this number was just 15%. The percentage of people who had heard “nothing at all” about online gambling legalization was 44%, compared to just 3% who answered the same when it came to legalizing marijuana.
What this seems to indicate is that awareness regarding online gambling is sorely lacking and could be a major reason why people are currently against legalization.
Wording and responses
With any poll you should always account for the phrasing of the question, but I have little issue with the wording here as the Fairleigh Dickinson poll used fairly neutral language, asking the following questions in regards to online gambling:
- There has been movement by some states to make it legal for casinos to provide on-line, or internet, gambling for its residents. Have much have you heard or read about this…?
- Do you favor or oppose allowing casinos to run online gambling for people in their states?
- If you had to choose, which of the following would you prefer to see legalized everywhere? Online gambling or small quantities of marijuana?
Overall, these are fairly innocuous questions, not really pushing the respondents one way or the other.
Still, I would have preferred to see a larger selection of answers than favor, oppose, and not sure, as this can often pigeonhole respondents into choosing an answer that is the closest to their actual stance but not a good representation of their feelings on the issue.
For instance, a list of potential answers that included strongly favor, somewhat favor, not sure, somewhat oppose, and strongly oppose would have given us a better understanding of where this issue currently resides in the court of public opinion.
Furthermore, the questions used the word gambling and not poker, which is likely to have tipped the scales further in the direction of opposition.
Overall this is certainly not a win for online gambling advocates, but at the same, it’s merely a flesh wound.
The poll of 1,151 adults aged 18 and over was conducted from April 21 through the 27th, 2014, and used both land-line and cell phones.
You can see the full breakdown of the poll results at the Fairleigh Dickinson University website.
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