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Poll: Half of Americans 'celebrating' legalized sports betting

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Half of Americans told pollsters they were excited about the prospect of sports betting after a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday to legalize the practice nationwide.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll, published on May 18, found that 50 percent of those they polled favored legalization of nationwide sports gambling, compared to 37 percent in opposition. The poll surveyed 1,001 adults by phone.

Two thirds of who opposed sports gambling based their reasoning on why they oppose gambling in general: the lure of addiction.

“Americans take a moral or practical approach to sports betting; those who oppose it are worried about its effects on society,” said Krista Jenkins, a political science professor at FDU who oversees the polling center. “Others want to benefit from the money that is already flowing through illegal wagering.”

Some 43 percent of respondents cited a fear of the spread of organized crime, and 39 percent said they were concerned that gaming would become less fair.

One perk perceived upside was an increase in tax revenue, with 52 percent of respondents partial towards sports gambling citing the prospect of additional tax revenue for the state.

“Others want to benefit from the money that is already flowing through illegal wagering,” Jenkins said.

Hours after the court’s landmark decision, businesses such as Monmouth Race Track announced that they’d be kicking off sports betting on Memorial Day Weekend. Later in the week, Golden Nugget Atlantic City announced it would be offering sports betting for patrons, starting in the summer.

But State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, issued a statement Wednesday saying sports betting will not start until legislation is enacted. Proposed legislation formally legalizing sports wagering in the state won’t be voted on until the June 7 of the state Senate, Sweeney said.

Under the text of a bill circulating in the statehouse, any group that operates a sports betting pool before the regulations are rolled out will be barred from doing so for the foreseeable future.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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