Sheldon Adelson is on quest to restore America’s Wire Act to its pre-2011 interpretation and ultimately prohibit all forms of Internet wagering, and to prove that’s what US citizens want, his Coalition to Stop Internet Gaming has begun polling residents in key states through controversial questioning.
A telephone survey conducted in Pennsylvania asked 513 registered voters for their opinions on the legalization of online gambling and Internet poker.
According to the Coalition, 73 percent of respondents said they were opposed to legalizing iGaming, with 54 percent saying they would be more likely to reelect a state legislator “if they strongly opposed legalizing online gaming in the state.”
Though Adelson and his colleagues are thoroughly pleased with the poll’s findings, the opposition, those in favor of legalized online gambling, point to a strategically flawed process due to biased questioning.
Performed by Harper Polling, a surveying company that primarily works with Republican political organizations and committees, it is being criticized for its wording of the survey inquiries that seemingly attempted to ignite a negative response.
Interviewees were asked a series of statements to discover whether the statement led them to be “more likely” or “less likely” to favor online gambling. But the questions were so skewed and arguably untrue, no reasonable adult would answer “more likely.”
Polling operators read the following statements to respondents before asking if they were more or less likely to support iGaming:
Legalizing online gambling in Pennsylvania will make it easy for children to be exposed to and participate in gambling, since it’s nearly impossible to prevent minors from gambling online.
The legislation being considered in the state legislature does not contain specific language to prevent “bad actors,” or people or businesses with a history of illegal activity, from being part of Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry.
As the FBI told Congress last year, “online casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes,” and “may provide more opportunities for criminals to launder illicit proceeds with increased anonymity.”
It’s hard to imagine such partisan assertions initiating anything other than an unfavorable response, but that hasn’t prevented polling organizers from declaring victory for the Coalition.
“Pennsylvanians stand in clear opposition to online gambling and that sentiment is only likely to intensify,” Brock McCleary, president of Harper wrote in the survey’s press release. “The survey shows that arguments in favor of online gambling fall flat.”
Not That Bad, Not That Good
Regardless of the perceived worthiness of the Coalition’s poll, online gambling’s numbers aren’t exactly good in Pennsylvania. In December of 2013, Quinnipiac University, one of the most respected academic polling outlets in the state, reported that while 55 percent of voters believe gambling is a “good thing,” just 33 percent want to legalize online gaming.
However, much has changed in the Internet gaming industry since Quinnipiac’s survey was performed.
As PA State Rep. John Payne (R-106th District) and chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee said during the introduction of his online gambling legislation, “Internet gaming is already here. I’m not trying to expand it, I’m trying to make it legal, and I’m trying to make sure we make sure people aren’t ripped off.”