New Jersey adults are divided on the idea of legalizing sports betting at existing casinos and racetracks in the Garden State, but a clear majority is opposed to allowing casinos outside of Atlantic City, according to the latest statewide poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind.

(Mario Tama, Getty Images News)
(Mario Tama, Getty Images News)

"Fifty percent of adults think the federal ban on legalized sports betting in all but a few states should be lifted with 41 percent use say they're okay with the federal ban remaining," said Krista Jenkins, a political science professor at FDU and the director of the poll. "In other words, placing a bet out in the open on basketball isn't a slam dunk in the court of public opinion."

Other findings include:

  • 52 percent of men support legal sports betting versus 36 percent opposed;
  • 43 percent of women support it versus 46 percent opposed;
  • 59 percent of those who have been to a casino in the last year support it;
  • 69 percent of those who have participated in an office pool in the last year support it.

"The most common reason given for supporting the overturn of the federal ban is the added revenue it would mean for the state and among those who support keeping the ban is place the fear that legalized sports betting would drive gambling addiction and hurt innocent people is the top reason," Jenkins said.

There are some in the New Jersey legislature who would like to see casinos in the northern part of the state, but the survey revealed Garden State residents were not keen on that notion. According to the poll, 57 percent oppose casino expansion outside of Atlantic City while 36 percent support casino expansion.

"It doesn't look like the public believes there's much that can be done to stem the tide on AC's troubles. Casinos in Pennsylvania and New York are beyond the control of New Jersey legislators, and belt tightening is inevitable during an economic downturn," Jenkins said.

The survey of 901 adults in New Jersey was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from Feb. 23 through March 1. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

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