Greenville, NC, March 12, 2019 - A new poll finds strong support for legalized sports gambling in New Jersey and Mississippi. Religion, geography and politics had little effect on the results. The poll of 1,000 adults (age 21 and over) was conducted after the Super Bowl this year by the ECU Center for Survey Research (CSR) to examine the gambling activities and opinions of residents in these two very different states – a northern “blue” state dominated by Democrats and a southern “red” state dominated by Republicans. The study comes nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a federal law that prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling (except Nevada). In the aftermath of the ruling, New Jersey and Mississippi were two of the first states to legalize sports gambling, adopting legislation in June 2018.
"Despite the stark political and demographic differences between New Jersey and Mississippi, residents hold remarkably similar views on a variety of issues related to legalized sports gambling," said Jonathan Morris, Director of Polling for ECU Center for Survey Research. "Our evidence indicates that religious and moral opposition to sports gambling is minimal, regardless of whether it be in the Northeast (New Jersey), or the deep South (Mississippi)."
Support for Legalized Gambling is High
- 75 percent of those surveyed agreed with the recently-passed law in their state that legalized sports gambling.
Despite Major Political and Demographic Differences Between New Jersey and Mississippi, Citizens Hold Similar Views on Legalized Gambling:
- Support for legalized sports gambling is 76 percent in blue-state New Jersey and 74 percent in red-state Mississippi.
- 71 percent of self-identified Republicans support legalized sports gambling; a similarly high 77 per cent of self-identified Democrats support legalized sports gambling.
Religion has only a Minimal Impact on Support for Legalized Sports Gambling
- 70 percent of Evangelical Christians support the legalization of sports gambling, which is only marginally lower than those who do not identify as Evangelical Christians (78 percent).
- Nearly two-thirds of those who attend church at least once a week support legalized sports gambling (65 percent), although to a lesser extent than those who attend church less frequently (81 percent).
Sports Gambling Viewed as Morally Acceptable by Large Majority
- Only 26 percent of respondents thought gambling on sports was morally wrong.
- 22 percent of people in New Jersey thought sports gambling was morally wrong, compared to 30 percent in Mississippi.
Legalized Sports Gambling Viewed as Good for the Economy
- 43 percent think legalized gambling has been good for their state’s economy, while only 14 percent think it has been bad (43 percent said gambling has had no impact).
Super Bowl Gambling Activity Varied
- Of those who gambled on the game, 25 percent bet through an online app, while a similar 25 percent placed their Super Bowl bets in person at a resort, casino or sportsbook. Another 11 percent placed their bets at a race track. The majority of Super Bowl bettors gambled among friends (54 percent) and one-third (32 percent) gambled at a Super Bowl party. (Note: Respondents were able to list multiple methods of gambling on the game).
- The most active bettors were young adults. Half of all 21- to 24-year-olds (51 percent) bet on the game. Only 11 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds, and 13 percent of those 65 and older bet on the game.
Concerns over Gambling Addiction Loom
- Six out of 10 respondents are at least somewhat concerned that legalized sports gambling will lead to higher rates of gambling addiction in their states.
The poll was conducted between February 6-12, 2019 by the ECU Center for Survey Research. The sample consisted of 1,024 respondents (n=493 from New Jersey, and n=531 from Mississippi) with a credibility interval, much like a poll’s margin of error, of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The data were weighted by age, race, gender, education and party identification. Data were collected using an Interactive Voice Response system of landline telephone (n=320) and an online sample (n=704) provided by Dynata (formerly Survey Sampling International). Follow us on Twitter @ECU_CSR
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