US support of gambling at all-time high – survey

By Brad Allen
A new study by the American Gaming Association (AGA) has found that 87% of Americans think gambling is an acceptable activity, while public support is at a record high of 57%.

The survey is part of a wider "Get To Know Gaming" campaign, intended to de-stigmatise the industry and encourage favourable legislation.

The study shows that more than 70% of voters recognise that casinos create jobs and nearly 60% know that a casino can boost the local economy.

AGA president Geoff Freeman said: “Voters recognise that casinos are a mainstream form of entertainment and an economic driver that supports jobs and boosts growth in communities across the nation."

Trade association the AGA hopes its findings will ease legislative and fiscal pressure on those it representatives, targeting the likes of the 55% tax on slot machine profits in Pennsylvania.

"We really need to show that we’re like any other business, any other industry that’s out there,” said AGA senior vice-president for public affairs Sara Rayme.

"Our goal through this campaign is those people who say, ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling;’ they’re going to turn around and see the amazing amount of positive impact a casino can have.”

The research shows that 46% of voters believed casinos had a positive impact on the community, compared to 26% who thought they did harm.

The telephone survey of a thousand Americans was conducted by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, CEO of the Mellman Group, and Republican pollster Glen Bolger, founder and partner of Public Opinion Strategies.

The study also details typical casino visitors, belying the traditional stereotypes.

Almost half had a college degree, with nearly two-thirds being homeowners.

Two-thirds regularly attended church and three quarters of visitors set and stuck to a gambling budget.

The study comes as states like Massachusetts open up to the economic benefits of casinos.
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