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updated: 12/21/2012 6:51 AM

Poll: U.S. OK with sports betting, but not Internet

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  • The nationwide telephone poll found 51 percent in favor of sports betting and 27 percent backing Internet gambling.

      The nationwide telephone poll found 51 percent in favor of sports betting and 27 percent backing Internet gambling.
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Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A new poll finds just over half of Americans favor making sports betting legal everywhere, while almost three-quarters are against legalizing Internet gambling.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll touches on two forms of gambling that New Jersey is avidly pursuing.

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State lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to an Internet gambling bill and sent it to Gov. Chris Christie, who hasn't indicated whether he'll sign it. And New Jersey is embroiled in a lawsuit over its plans to offer sports betting next year despite a federal ban on it in all but four states.

The nationwide telephone poll found 51 percent in favor of sports betting and 27 percent backing Internet gambling.

"These national figures are similar to what we've seen in our recent polls of New Jersey voters," said Krista Jenkins, director of the poll and a professor of political science at the university.

The poll also finds that one in five American men acknowledge betting on sports, and that they are the group most likely to support expanding legal sports betting.

The overall result is up significantly from a March 2010 national poll by PublicMind which found only 39 percent supported the expansion of sports betting.

As in prior polls, men far outpace women -- 60 percent to 43 percent -- in their support for sports betting.

While Internet gambling did not fare as well, it still polled better this year than it did in 2010, when only 21 percent of respondents supported it. Once again, support from men is almost double that of women -- 36 percent to 19 percent -- when it comes to legalizing Internet gambling.

New Jersey's Internet gambling bill would require that people be physically present in New Jersey while making bets. But it contains loopholes that would allow gamblers in other states to make and cash in bets under certain circumstances. The 12 Atlantic City casinos would operate the online betting systems and be taxed at 10 percent of their online winnings, up from the 8 percent casinos pay on their in-house winnings.

The poll also found that political affiliation made little difference in attitudes toward Internet gambling; 27 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans supported it, while 59 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans opposed it. Independents had roughly the same levels of support, as well.

The poll of 814 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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