The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) has published a poll suggesting that the residents of Pennsylvania aren’t all that interested in seeing online poker or other Internet gaming coming to their state.
However, some are questioning the legitimacy of the Sheldon Adelson-backed poll, saying that it may not be trustworthy.
The results come from a telephone survey of 513 registered Pennsylvania voters conducted by Harper Polling.
“Our survey of registered voters in Pennsylvania reveals pervasive opposition to the introduction of online gambling in the state,” wrote Brock McCleary, president of Harper Polling.
“Throughout the survey, there is clear evidence that while Pennsylvanians approve of other types of gambling, they have a sharply negative view of online gambling.”
The results of the survey do support that view. While the state lottery is viewed favorably by 84 percent of Pennsylvanians, and race tracks (60 percent) and casinos (59 percent) also receive majority support, only 21 percent of voters in the state see online gambling in a favorable light.
That displeasure hits on nearly all demographics, as Republicans, Democrats and Independents all showed strong majorities holding unfavorable opinions of online gambling. In contrast, a majority of all three groups hold favorable opinions of “Las Vegas style gambling.”
Those numbers hold up geographically and among both men and women, though women appear to be more opposed to gambling expansion across the board than men.
Most age groups are also against online gambling, although voters ages 18 to 39 did favor online gambling by a 52 percent to 40 percent margin in the survey.
The poll also asked voters how they would react if their state legislators “strongly opposed legalizing online gambling in the state,” with 54 percent saying they would be more likely to support such a lawmaker.
Only 16 percent said they would be less likely to vote for someone who tried to stop online gambling in the state.
However, there is significant reason to doubt just how strongly these opinions are actually held by the electorate.
According to a report from Gaming Intelligence, the poll used several leading statements that may make the results more akin to those of a “push poll” rather than a true scientific study of the opinions of Pennsylvania voters.
For instance, respondents to the poll were asked whether a number of statements would make them more or less likely to support online gambling. Not surprisingly, these statements were designed to offer a negative view of online poker and casino games.
For instance, those polled were told that “legalizing online gambling in Pennsylvania will make it easy for children to be exposed to and participate in gambling, since it is nearly impossible to prevent minors from gambling online.”
Another statement informed respondents that “the legislation being considered in the state legislature does not contain specific language to prevent ‘bad actors,’ or people or businesses with a history of illegal activity, from being part of Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry.”
But while the poll’s findings may have been somewhat manufactured, they may still be reasonably close to a realistic view of what state residents believe about online poker.
In a December 2013 poll, Quinnipiac found that Pennsylvania voters were against online gambling by a 62 percent to 33 percent margin, suggesting that while the CSIG poll may be biased, there may still be significant opposition to online gambling in the state.