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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Sands-sponsored survey finds most opposed to Internet gaming

28 October 2013

LAS VEGAS -- A national survey conducted on behalf of Las Vegas Sands Corp. found that 67 percent of those questioned are opposed to legalizing Internet gaming.

Among the findings from the poll directed by The Tarrance Group earlier this month was that 62 percent of those surveyed approved of having various forms of gambling in their respective states as a way of generating tax revenues.

However, the polling found sound opposition to Internet gaming. More than 58 percent of the respondents favored the current federal ban on the activity.

“People are not opposed to casinos, but they just believe they shouldn’t be on on everyone’s phone and computer,” said Las Vegas Sands Vice President of Government Relations and Community Development Andy Abboud.

The Tarrance Group, which is headquartered outside Washington, D.C., in Alexandria, Va., works as a pollster on behalf of Republican candidates. The telephone survey polled 1,000 likely registered voters across party lines from all 50 states between Oct. 14-17. The survey had a 3 percent margin of error. Both landline and cellphone users were polled.

The poll was conducted in the manner of a survey used for a presidential campaign.

Those surveyed were asked whether or not they had a positive or negative view of seven forms of gaming. State lotteries had the highest positive rating at 71 percent. Horse racing tracks has a 58 percent approval while Las Vegas style casinos had a 56 percent positive rating. Internet gambling had the highest negative rating at 67 percent.

The survey also asked a variety of questions covering voters perceptions on Internet gaming.

“While voters support the concept of using gambling to generate revenue and have generally positive views about existing forms of state approved gambling, there is a sharp divide when it comes to Internet gambling,” The Tarrance Group wrote in a memo to Las Vegas Sands executives. “Internet gambling, even Internet poker, is seen as a much different form of gambling and is seen in a much more negative light. Even experienced gamblers have qualms about this form of gambling.”

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson has been the casino industry’s most vocal opponent against any effort to legalize Internet gaming on federal level. His approach has differed from others in the casino industry, including MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp.

The Washington, D.C.-based American Gaming Association, the gaming’s trade group and federal lobbying arm, supports Congress passing poker-only federal legislation. Las Vegas Sands President Michael Leven is a member of the Association’s board.

Association representatives declined comment on the Las Vegas Sands poll.

In June, Adelson, who had previously raised moral objections to Internet gaming, wrote a commentary that was published on in which he said online wagering technology didn’t provide enough safeguards against underage gambling and problem gambling.

In his commentary, Adelson used phrases such as “fool’s gold” and “societal train wreck” to describe online gambling. He said the activity could bring a “plague” to society.

Abboud said the survey’s findings “help back up” the company’s belief that most Americans don’t favor legalizing Internet wagering. Abboud said the survey would be used when Las Vegas Sands officials discuss Internet gaming matters with lawmakers on both state and federal level.

“We have a stated position that has always been in opposition to Internet gaming,” Abboud said. “As long as the issue is being pushed, we will respond accordingly.”

Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have enacted Internet gaming laws. In Nevada, two real money online poker websites are accepting wagers over the Internet. Delaware is expected to launch online poker next week and New Jersey plans to launch Internet gaming by end of November.

In the U.S., Las Vegas Sands operates casinos in only Nevada and Pennsylvania, which is one of several states exploring Internet gaming legalization. In a separate survey for Las Vegas Sands, The Tarrance Group found that 69 percent of the Pennsylvania respondents had a negative view of Internet gaming.