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New Jersey Poll Sees Spike in Online Gambling Supporters

Though a majority of New Jersey residents oppose online gambling, a new poll by Farleigh Dickinson University shows that the gap is lessening.

A PublicMind poll released last month found that 46 percent of respondents were against the state’s new adoption of internet wagering, while 41 percent supported the measure. That is a significant contrast from just two years ago, when 67 percent of respondents said they opposed online gambling.

“It’s possible that the growth in support for the practice is a consequence of the legislation’s passage,” said Krista Jenkins, the poll’s director and a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Voters may be accepting the inevitable, or have acquired new information that brought about a change of heart, given the heightened exposure any new legislation brings with it.”

In February, Governor Chris Christie approved a bill that would allow Atlantic City casinos to offer online games through servers based at their properties. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement is currently working on rules and regulations for the activity, with the goal of implementing a workable system by September.

Surprisingly, the convenience of online gambling was not the most compelling reason for the registered voters that supported it. Sixty-six percent of those who support online gambling said additional revenue for the state was the main reason they favor it. For those that oppose online gaming, 33 percent believed that compulsive gambling would hurt families, while 26 percent cited the ease to gamble as a negative factor.

As to the question of sports betting, a majority of respondents believed that individual states are better equipped than the federal government to decide if they should be allowed to offer legal sports betting. New Jersey has appealed an injunction to prevent it from establishing a sports betting program at casinos and state racetracks.

“Right now, only a handful of states are permitted to allow legalized sports betting, and New Jersey is not one of them,” Jenkins said. “New Jersey voters clearly see this as an example of federal overreach into state sovereignty. 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.”