A new poll shows two-thirds of Pennsylvania residents want online gambling legalized, regulated and taxed.
The poll, commissioned by the Harrisburg-based Bravo Group lobbying firm, surveyed 769 registered voters between May 9-15. Of those surveyed, 66% want state politicians to “pass a law that will tax online gambling so the money can be used for education and other vital state programs.” Only 20% of those surveyed expressed opposition to such a proposal.
The poll’s findings are in stark contrast to the farcical survey results released earlier this month by the Sheldon Adelson-supported Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. That much-derided ‘push-poll’ – which salted the mine by reading participants highly loaded and seriously dubious statements about online gambling – claimed that nearly three-quarters of Pennsylvania voters wanted to see online gambling operators’ heads impaled on spikes.
Both surveys reveal how the phrasing of a question can skew the results. In the Bravo poll, 58% of participants said they supported passage of a law that licensed and strictly regulated online gambling. That’s still a significant majority, but eight points less than the question that included mentions of funding for education and whatnot.
The Bravo poll found 80% support for lawmakers requiring online operators to use technology to prevent underage gamblers from accessing gambling sites (which makes you wonder about the 14% who apparently think SesameStreetSlots.com is a good idea). Requirements for other harm-minimization technological efforts, such as allowing gamblers to set limits on deposits, losses and the length of time spent gambling, received 52% support.
There are four online gambling bills currently under consideration in the Pennsylvania legislature: one is poker-only, two more (HB 649 and HB 920) allow both poker and casino while the fourth calls for a total ban on online gambling.
The politicians who introduced the first three bills will take comfort in one particular Bravo poll question, which found that 61% of respondents said they were more likely to vote for a lawmaker who could pull off the trifecta of keeping kids from gambling online, generating millions of dollars for state programs and siccing law enforcement on the Lock Pokers of the world.