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Kevin Smith

The Survey Says. . . Americans Want Regulation

2 May 2003

Opponents of the I-gaming prohibition movement are hoping the results of a recent survey will give them ammunition in their efforts to convince the U.S. Congress to regulate their industry.

The results of the nationwide survey, which were released Tuesday by the Interactive Gaming Council, indicate that the American public may be more receptive to the idea of licensed online casinos in the United States than previously thought.

Of the 1,000 American adults contacted between Jan. 17 and Jan. 29, 2003, 55 percent oppose efforts by the government to pass prohibitive legislation.

Equally noteworthy is that 55 percent of the respondents are also in favor of passing regulatory measures to create licensed online casinos in the United States.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents, 72 percent, view gambling as a form of entertainment on the same level as attending sporting events or going to the movies.

The survey also found that many Americans could be opposed to federal legislation aimed at either an outright prohibition of I-gaming or banning the use of banking instruments at online casinos and sports books.

Sixty percent of those questioned said they feel a federal ban on Internet gambling could be the start of a slippery slope leading to more restrictions on how citizens use the Internet.

Additionally, a majority of Americans see the benefit of legalizing an entirely new industry. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed agreed that the industry could create new tax revenues for federal and state governments to fund government programs and keep personal taxes to a minimum.

Although the House and Senate are considering prohibition bills, sponsored by Rep. James Leach, R-Iowa, and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., respectively, a bill aimed at studying the idea of regulating I-gaming appears to be gaining momentum.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and author of H.R. 1223, which calls for the creation of a commission on Internet gambling licensing and regulation, is concerned about the viability and enforcement of a prohibition bill.

"Some members of Congress believe they can somehow stop the millions of Americans who gamble online from visiting Internet sites by passing legislation to prevent the use of credit cards and other bank instruments to gamble the Internet," he said. "Just as outlawing alcohol did not work in the 1920s the current attempts to prohibit online gaming will not work either."

Even when given a choice among (a) totally banning Internet gambling, (b) legalizing and regulating Internet gambling or (c) leaving things as they are, those surveyed were split, 34 percent each, between favoring regulation and maintaining the status quo. Only 28 percent said they support a total ban.

Perhaps the most decisive statistic from the survey, though, was that 68 percent said they oppose a ban on Internet gambling.

Another large majority of those surveyed, 75 percent, said it would be hypocritical of the government to prevent people from gambling online while at the same time allowing people to purchase tickets for state lotteries online and to place Internet bets on horse races.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points and was conducted by First International Resources, a New Jersey-based public opinion research firm, with the polling firm of TNS/Intersearch.

The Survey Says. . . Americans Want Regulation is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith