New U.S. survey shows resistance to online gambling legalisation

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Is public opinion in the United States behind Congressman Barney Frank's legislative attempts to legalise online gambling? A recent academic study suggests that may not be the case.

A new US survey on gambling in general has found that two-thirds (67%) of 1,000 respondents oppose changing the law to allow bets to be placed over the Internet, and 53% oppose allowing bets on the outcome of professional or college sporting events.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll was conducted by telephone on a sample of 1,000 adults randomly chosen across the country, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%, reports Associated Press.

Respondents appeared to not mind gambling generally - 62% said they had gambled at a casino at least once. One in three respondents said they or someone in their household had visited a casino within the past year, and one in five participated in an office betting pool.

54% of those surveyed said legalised sports betting is a bad idea because it can promote excessive gambling and corrupt sports. But 39% said that because so many people bet illegally on sports already, it should be allowed and taxed by the government.

Poll director Peter Woolley said public opinion on sports betting could change quickly.

"Keep your eye on these numbers," he said. "If some states allow sports betting and profit by it, other states will want to follow."

The poll also looked at land gambling in general, finding that 46% of respondents thought land casinos have a negative effect on the surrounding community, while 38% said they have a positive effect.

Las Vegas was the first place that came to mind when respondents thought about gambling, with 54% of respondents naming it first. Atlantic City was a distant second at just 7%, followed by Reno and Connecticut at 2% each.

In terms of perception, most major gambling resorts in the U.S. got positive ratings. Las Vegas got 49% positive versus 23% negative; Atlantic City was ranked 46% positive and 26% negative; and New Orleans scored 43% positive and 25% negative.

Other gambling destinations scoring positively were St. Louis (35%); Biloxi, Miss. (31%); and Shreveport, La. (25%). Other smaller markets like Connecticut, where Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun operate; Tunica, Miss., and Chicagoland in Illinois were ranked about evenly in terms of positive and negative perception, with a majority of poll respondents having no opinion of them either way.

Only Detroit got a negative rating, with 32% of respondents viewing the Motor City and its three casinos negatively, compared with 17% who viewed the city positively.

Source: InfoPowa News