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New Jersey Voters Don’t Want Internet Gambling [AUDIO]

Some New Jersey legislators may be excited about expanding Atlantic City gambling to the Internet, but Garden State voters are not.

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A Fairleigh Dickinson University-Public Mind poll released today reveals about three in five New Jersey voters (58%) oppose allowing New Jersey casinos to run betting games over the Internet; just 31% say they favor it, a two-to-one margin against.

Online gambling may be a good bet for new state revenue,” says Peter Woolley, director of the poll, “but lots of voters don’t think it’s a good bet for New Jersey households.”

New Jersey’s gaming industry could sure use a boost. Overall, Atlantic City’s casinos took in $260.6 million in April, a 10 percent decline from a year ago. Slot machine revenue fell 9.2 percent, to $189.5 million, while table game revenue decreased by 12.1 percent, to $ 71.1 million. Casino revenues were up 3% nationwide in 2011, according to an annual report by the American Gaming Association.

Opposition to Internet gambling reaches across many groups. Women oppose it (65%-25%), as do men (52%-37%). Those who have not been to a casino in the past year oppose it (62%-26%), but even those who recently have been to a casino or slots parlor oppose it (51%-42%). The younger the voter, the more likely he or she is to support it, but only those 30 and under show a majority in favor (57%-39%).

Republican and Democratic voters oppose Internet gambling in similar numbers (58% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats), even though they both favor sports betting. And changing the question from Internet “gambling” to the more industry-friendly Internet “gaming” doesn’t change the outcome significantly.

“I suppose there is something to be said for losing money without the inconvenience of leaving town,” says Woolley, “but that’s usually called property taxes or alimony.”

Have a gambling problem? That’s your fault, at least according to this survey. Seventy-nine percent say individuals must be responsible for what they spend, while 16% say the state must put procedures in place to make sure that people don’t spend too much money.

The poll of 797 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from April 30 through May 6, 2012, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.

Legislation to authorize Internet wagering at Atlantic City casinos to enable New Jerseyans to wager on casino games via the Internet was approved last week by an Assembly panel. The bill allows all games that may be played at a casino to be offered through Internet wagering. People would be allowed to be from out-of-state, as long as it’s consistent with federal law, but that’s question that remains up in the air. Legal concerns caused Governor Chris Christie to veto a similar measure.

“We must position New Jersey’s gaming industry to thrive in the 21st Century, and that involves authorizing a legally sound Internet gaming law,” says bill co-sponsor, Assemblyman John Burzichelli. “This is another key piece of our effort to boost New Jersey’s gaming industry by expanding and modernizing our wagering options. This will rejuvenate our tourist industry while increasing employment, capital investment and much needed urban redevelopment.”

Burzichelli and bill co-sponsors Assemblymen Vincent Prieto and Ruben Ramos say their Internet wagering measure would help New Jersey’s gaming industry amid increased competition from other states.

Prieto explains, “”Most everything else has migrated to the Internet and taken advantage of the consumer and revenue options it offers, and New Jersey’s gaming industry should be no different. This is a carefully crafted bill designed to ensure Internet gaming on casino games is offered the right way. It’s a much-needed competitive step forward for our casinos that could also raise more revenue to benefit senior and disabled citizens.”

New Jersey could take out-of-state bets, as long as the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement determines that doing so wouldn’t violate federal law. A Senate committee approved a similar bill last month.

“The Internet has long been a reality, and Internet gaming in New Jersey should now be reality too,” says Ramos. “We have to move aggressively and thoughtfully to position our gaming industry to succeed, and this is another step toward that goal. It will mean economic growth and job creation for our state.”

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