STATE — The decision by the Christie administration to move forward with allowing sports betting in casinos and racetracks across the state, despite a federal law which prohibits all but a few states from doing so, receives majority support, according to the most recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey of adults aged 18 and older.
Among those who have an opinion on the issue, 45 percent believe New Jersey should allow sports betting at racetracks and casinos, even if federal law prevents it from doing so, compared to 38 percent who believe New Jersey should wait until the federal ban is repealed by Congress.
“Although support is not overwhelming, these numbers suggest the public is cautiously behind the goal of moving forward with legalized sports betting,” said Krista Jenkins, executive director of PublicMind and professor of political science.
An even larger percentage (58 percent) endorses sports betting irrespective of the federal ban. This represents a slight increase from the last time PublicMind asked a similar question. In September 2011, 53 percent said they favor allowing sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and racetracks, with 31 percent opposed.
A few groups help to distinguish among those who are more supportive relative to others. A majority of men endorse moving forward without a congressional repeal (53 percent) compared with only four-in-ten women (38 percent). And Republicans (52 percent) are comfortable allowing legalized sports betting in numbers that significantly exceed Democrats (42 percent) and independents (40 percent).
“The numbers suggest that men are more accustomed to placing sports bets, especially in informal settings like an office, so their green light to legalized sports betting even in defiance of federal law should come as no surprise,” said Jenkins. “As for party differences, the more robust support among Republicans could be reflective of the close proximity the issue has to the Christie administration.”
Finally, those who have been to a slots or casino parlor in the past twelve months emerge as proponents of legalized sports betting. Fifty-three percent of casino-goers endorse moving forward compared with 41 percent who haven’t frequented a gaming locale recently.
“It’s also interesting to see such stark differences among those who say they have bet on sports in an office pool or some other informal gaming venue,” said Jenkins. “The double digit point difference among office betters and non-betters suggests that informally betting primes the pump for legalizing the practice.” Fifty-eight percent of office gamers favor moving forward compared with only 42 percent of non-betting residents who say the same.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University statewide poll of 945 registered and unregistered voters was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from July 23 through July 29, and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.
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