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Americans May be hedging their online casino bets

A new survey conducted regarding internet gambling in the United States shows that perhaps public approval is slipping in terms of online casinos and gambling in general. Nevertheless, despite these figures, it is clear that gambling and spending at online casinos is still on the rise. Gamblers last year dropped a record $30 billion at the nation’s 455 commercial casinos in 11 states, and online casinos saw profits in the billions as well, as the online casinos industry is a $12 billion dollar a year venture. Thousands of online casinos crowd the marketplace and new online casinos are launched almost on a daily basis.

A new survey released by the American Gaming Associated suggested that Americans’ love for legalizing gambling at online casinos and land based casinos may be cooling.

Only 50 percent of respondents, the lowest figure since 2000, agreed with the statement that “casino gambling is perfectly acceptable for anyone.” On the flip side, 18 percent, the highest figure in six years, disagreed.

Online casinos are promoted by many but also looked down upon because some believe that online casinos lead to addiction and problem gambling among youth. There is currently legislation in the US Congress aimed at crippling the online casinos industry.
Since 2000, the survey has found public acceptance of gambling ranging between 51 percent and 57 percent, including 54 percent last year. The number of those opposed held steady at 16 percent until slipping to 15 percent last year then jumping to 18 percent this year.
The survey, by Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, interviewed 800 U.S. adults in March.
For the first time, the association’s annual “State of the State” report examined online casinos. More than half of online internet gambling revenues come from American players.
The association recently called on Congress to study the rapidly expanding industry before taking action on pending bills to outlaw it — at a time when other nations, including the United Kingdom, are legalizing and taxing it.
Survey findings by Peter D. Hart Research Associates estimated that about 4 percent of Americans gambled at online casinos last year, roughly double the estimates for 2004.
Commenting on online casinos, the association’s President said, “There may be some erosion,” He added, “There’s been some negative publicity out there the past year,” he said, citing the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
The President of the association also noted that the Abramoff affair centered mostly on tribal casino gambling and did not taint his association’s membership of privately owned, state-regulated commercial casinos. He also said that the survey variances fell within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.
The president added, “There are a lot of unanswered questions out there we think ought to be resolved,” he said, including protections against underage gamblers, tribal sovereignty to operate online casinos and U.S. free-trade obligations.
The survey also noted that online gamblers were overwhelmingly young (median age 31) and more affluent than the average American.




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