NJ Voters Favoring Sports Betting at Tracks

A recent poll of New Jersey voters showed a majority favor making sports betting legal at Atlantic City casinos and racetracks.

The poll, conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, showed 52% of voters favor sports betting and 31% oppose it. These results are similar to a poll done by Fairleigh Dickinson University in April that showed 53% of voters favored sports betting.

A referendum on the November ballot in New Jersey will ask voters whether they want the legislature to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and at horse racetracks. The betting would be on the results of any professional, college, or amateur sport or athletic event with the exception of any college sporting events taking place in New Jersey or involving New Jersey collegiate teams.

Even if the referendum passes, sports betting cannot be adopted until a federal law limiting legal sports betting to four states is repealed or overturned. Sports betting is only legal in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana.

The referendum is certainly not a priority with most voters. With the vote only weeks away, the PublicMind poll found 71% of voters saying they have heard little or nothing about it and two-thirds (67%) saying they have little interest in the issue.

“Voter turnout will be relatively low in November, and the percentage of people voting on the referendum will be even lower,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “But even those who have little or no interest in the issue, favor sports betting by a 10 point margin,” he added.

Among voters who expressed little or no interest, 44% say they favor sports bettting and 34% say they oppose it.

“New Jerseyans are used to having gambling in their state, and used to having it in Atlantic City,” said Woolley. “I think they see this as revenue for the state.”

Opposition of the sports betting amendment is skewed slightly toward women, with 41% of women voters saying they opposed the measure to 39% in favor. Male voters were more strongly in favor by a margin of 65% to 21%.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 800 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 19 through Sept. 25, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.

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