New Poll Says Two-Thirds of Americans Want Online Poker Legalized

A new poll was conducted to gauge whether or not Americans would favor the legalization of online gaming in the United States. Results show at least two-thirds of men and women from different demographics favor the move.

A new poll was conducted to gauge whether or not Americans would favor the legalization of online gaming in the United States. Results show at least two-thirds of men and women from different demographics favor the move.

According to a new opinion poll, two out of three Americans would like to see online poker legalized in the United States. The poll was conducted through telephone over a four-day period last month by polling firm Princeton Survey Research Associates International of Princeton, New Jersey for the libertarian website Reason.com. A total of 1,011 adults were interviewed—half by cell phone and half by traditional landline telephone. The margin of error for the poll was +/- 3.7 percent the firm said, meaning response percentages to poll questions could actually be as much as 3.7 percent higher or lower than reported.

Breaking Down the Results

According to the poll, 65 percent of Americans favor online poker being legalized. When the polling is broken down by political affiliation, 66 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Republicans favored legalization, where only 58 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Democrats favored it. Of respondents who identified themselves as Independents, 68 percent favored legalization.

The poll also showed that money and education affect views on the issue. The more those responders had of either, the more likely they were to favor legalization. 41 percent of those who identified themselves as low-income citizens favored legalization of Internet poker, while 66 percent of respondents who identified themselves as high-income favored it. Of the poll respondents who did not attend college, 41 percent favored legalization, while 78 percent of those who attended college favored it.

Age is also a factor in determining views on online poker. The poll found that 70 percent of those under age 55 favored legalizing it, while only 56 percent of those over age 55 favored it. The poll did not break down results by sex, race, religion or geographical region.

Potential for Legalization in the US

Currently, only Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have legalized online poker in the United States. Activity is available only within those states and only to gamblers who are physically present in them. Several other states–including California, Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Dakota–have state legislatures that are considering legalization, with California being seen as the next one to pull the trigger. On the Federal level, U.S. Congress has several pending bills that would legalize online poker nationally, but those bills appear to be going nowhere. So is it a State or Federal issue? The U.S. Constitution specifically spells out the regulatory powers of the Federal government, noting that anything not mentioned will be left to the individual states. Since gambling is not mentioned in the Constitution, it has historically been interpreted to mean states, not the Federal government, have the authority to regulate gambling, as is done with casinos.

The Wall Street Journal reports that if online gaming is fully legalized by 2020, it will generate the same amount of revenue as Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined: $9.3 billion. While online gaming can be made legal at the state level, Congress is considering several bills to legalize it nationwide. The latest Reason-Rupe poll finds that a solid majority (65 percent) of Americans favor legalizing online gaming, while 32 percent think the government should prohibit people from gambling in online poker games.

Results Show Political Affiliation, Income as Factors

Majorities of all partisans favor allowing Americans to play online poker, but 75 percent of independents who lean Republican were even more likely to favor it; Democrats were the least likely to favor it with 58 percent. Regular Republicans (66 percent), non-partisan Independents (68 percent) and independent-leaning Democrats (65 percent) also favor legalizing online poker.

Lower-income Americans and those with a high school degree or less are most likely to favor banning online gaming (41 percent), but 56 percent would still favor legalization. By comparison, only 21 percent of post-graduates and 31 percent of high income Americans favor the ban (73 percent and 66 percent favor legalization respectively).

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted on Dec 4-8 2013 and interviewed adults on both mobile (506) and landline (505) phones. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology can be found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.

Tom Somach
Written by
Tom Somach
Tom Somach is an American journalist who has covered the gambling industry for more than 20 years. Although he has covered every aspect of gambling from bingo to baccarat, his specialities are poker, sports betting and Internet gambling. His work has appeared in newspapers such as the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, the Edmonton Sun and the Las Vegas Sporting News, and on websites such as Gambling911.com, PokerHelper.com, BettorsWorld.com and RollingGoodTimes.com. In addition, he is a radio host and producer, having appeared on and created numerous radio shows in the USA about poker and sports betting.

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