AC And Sports Betting: Perfect Together?

photo by Ron Miguel

STATE—New Jerseyans have a solidly favorable view of Atlantic City as a gambling destination, rating it nearly as well as Las Vegas, according to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™. The poll also found that Garden Staters are generally more supportive of gambling than the nation as a whole.

By a margin of three-to-one (68%-22%), New Jerseyans have a favorable opinion of Atlantic City. By comparison, New Jerseyans’ view of Las Vegas is favorable over unfavorable by 70%-15%.  And while their view of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos is positive by a ratio of three-to-one, at least two-in-five Garden Staters have no opinion of the Connecticut competition for gambling patrons.


“It’s a surprising and encouraging sign that New Jerseyans rate their own Atlantic City as a place for gaming almost as well as they rate Las Vegas, which is clearly the national leader,” said Donald Hoover, a professor in FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and a former casino executive.

The poll also finds that more New Jerseyans think casinos have a positive impact on the local community (46%) than a negative impact (35%). These numbers contrast significantly to the most recent national poll, where just 38% of Americans said casinos positively impact the community and 46% said their impact is negative.

New Jerseyans are also more supportive of legalized sports betting than the nation as a whole. New Jerseyans divide evenly on the question of changing the law to allow sports betting in all states, with 45% supporting it, and 46% opposing it.  But the most recent national poll shows that 53% of Americans oppose legalizing sports betting in all states, and 39% favor it.

Similarly, 54% of Americans nationwide say that legal sports betting is a bad idea because it may corrupt sports, and 39% say people do it anyway, so government should allow it and tax it.  But New Jerseyans split evenly, 46% for allowing sports betting and taxing it, and 47% saying no, it’s a bad idea.
When the question is narrowed to allowing sports betting in Atlantic City casinos, New Jerseyans favor it strongly, 60% to 33%. That margin is similar to results a year ago.

New Jerseyans favor making sports betting legal at the state’s ailing race tracks by 56%-36%, but that is down from 63%-30% a year ago.

New Jerseyans also oppose making sports betting legal at off-track betting parlors by 51% to 40%.  A year ago, New Jerseyans split 48%-43% in favor of sports betting at off-track betting parlors.

New Jerseyans oppose making sports betting legal by telephone and the internet even in their own state by 67%-27%.  This is unchanged from a year ago.

“People’s views on the issue of sports betting will change as the public discussion progresses,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “For much of the public, this is a recent issue.  But for people worried about Atlantic City revenues and the state budget, this is becoming a pressing issue.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 801 New Jersey residents was conducted by telephone from Feb. 23, 2010, through March 1, 2010, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.

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