Online gaming in New Jersey has been legal since November, but a new poll released Monday indicates that more Garden State residents would prefer to see marijuana legalized instead.
According to a Farleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll, while 41 percent of New Jersey residents say they support the legalization of marijuana in small quantities for recreational use, just 32 percent support legalized online gaming.
Representing a recent decline in public support, a resounding 57 percent said they opposed legalized internet wagering, the poll said. When the same question was asked in March, 41 percent said they supported online gaming compared to 46 percent who opposed it.
"The public's attitude was, for several years, warming up to online gambling," poll director Krista Jenkins said. "But there has been a clear change in direction, now that the practice has actually been legalized. Part of the public has always shown deep reluctance to make gambling so accessible in their own homes. Now that is in fact legal, they may be more concerned than ever."
At about 40 percent, support for online gaming was higher among those who reported having visited a casino in the past year. Also, the poll found that while 67 percent of women were opposed to internet gaming's legalization, only 47 percent of men felt the same way.
"Internet gambling firms operating in New Jersey have been marketing heavily through numerous media outlets to gain recognition in the online gambling space," senior lecturer of hospitality management Donald Hoover said. "These numbers may reflect a bit of intolerance to internet gambling due to the nature and volume of advertising about IGAMING recently in New Jersey."
While support for internet gaming is tapering off, attitudes toward the legalization of marijuana appear to be heading in the opposite direction. The poll found that 41 percent support legalizing marijuana in small recreational amounts compared to 52 percent who say they're opposed to the idea.
The state currently only has a medicinal marijuana program on its books.
"These numbers point to the possibility that fertile ground exists in the state for those looking to expand legalization beyond medicinal use," Jenkins said. "Policymakers will likely be watching for changes in public opinion as the percentage difference between those in favor and opposed gets closer to the 50/50 mark. Right now, however, a majority of the public remains opposed."
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