New Poll Finds That More Than Half of PA Residents would Regulate IGaming

Earlier this year, a poll commissioned by the Sheldon Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling “found” that the majority of Pennsylvania voters did not support the legalization of the industry in their state.

That study was widely criticized by online poker proponents, who pointed out that the firm responsible for the poll, Harper Polling, is a company well-known for creating studies to bolster the interests of Republicans.

Now, a new poll commissioned by the Harrisburg lobbying and PR firm the Bravo Group purports to show that more than half of Commonwealth residents are now in favor of legalizing Internet gambling in the state.

Specifically, the researchers asked residents if they supported online gambling bill HB 649, introduced by Pennsylvania Representative John Payne. The legislation would allow current regulated land-based casinos to partner with a software provider to offer poker and casino table games.

The results

While the specific questions asked of residents have not been published, the Bravo Group did highlight several takeaways.

A total of 66% of those questioned are in favor of regulating and taxing iGaming in order to use the funds for education and other government projects.

In terms of security, 80% of respondents said that they would like for the government to implement some kind of safety controls to safeguard against fraud and underage gambling. In a recent hearing conducted by Representative Payne, gambling industry executives gave testimony and presented live demonstrations of just how effective existing technology can be in that regard.

52% of the total respondents said that they would similarly support such technology to help problem gamblers by limiting their deposit amounts and time played. The same percentage furthermore said that they would want a law-enforcement agency to have jurisdiction over any future gaming sites.

The big question of whether Pennsylvanians would like to see the government regulate online gambling showed that 58% of respondents were in favor of such a move. Finally, a total of 61% said that they would be more likely to vote for legislator who backs a bill which would “protect children from gambling online, generate millions of dollars for vital state programs, and give law-enforcement the power to stop fraud and cheating of offshore gambling sites.”

Of course, these polls can be extremely biased, depending on the motivations of those funding them. We don’t know how these questions were asked, and the last statistic presented seems like it has the potential to sway respondents through the wording of the question itself.

The Keystone State has been making steady progress towards legalizing online gambling, recently conducting an informational hearing on the industry presided over by Representative Payne.