conducted a survey during the last week of May, 2012. The survey consisted of four questions and each question collected 1,000 responses. The survey asked a random sampling of Americans whether or not they had gambled online for real money over the past year and how they feel about the legalization of online gambling.

Most noteworthy was the finding that more than 80% of those questioned were not in support of the prohibition of online gambling. Instead, Americans overwhelmingly supported legalizing online gambling nationwide or letting each state decide. Less than 19% of the respondents were in favor of a nationwide prohibition.

One of the survey questions asked the respondents to pick the best argument against the legalization of online gambling. Three results of this question were close. The greatest concern among those surveyed was the potential for increased gambling addiction. Unfair or rigged games came in second place and the potential for minors gambling online came in third place.

Another survey question asked the respondents to pick the best argument for the legalization of online gambling. The most popular response to that question was that online gambling is a matter of free choice. That response was chosen by nearly half the respondents.

Survey Questions and Answers

The survey consisted of four multiple choice questions. Respondents were only able to pick one answer. Here are the questions and results expressed in percentages:

Have you gambled online for real money within the past 12 months?

  • Yes 6.4%
  • No 93.6%

Which of the following best describes your feelings regarding online gambling?

  • We should let each state decide 46.1%
  • Legalize and tax it at the federal level 24.9%
  • It should be banned nationwide 18.9%
  • Legalize it nationwide but not tax it 10%

Which of the following do you consider to be the strongest argument AGAINST online gambling?

  • Potential for increased gambling addiction 31.8%
  • Possibility of unfair or rigged games 28.9%
  • Potential for minors to gamble 22.4%
  • Gambling is an immoral act 9.1%
  • Potential for money laundering 7.9%

Which of the following do you consider to be the strongest argument FOR online gambling?

  • It is a matter of free choice 45.1%
  • It would increase tax revenue 20.5%
  • Prohibition doesn’t work 19.7%
  • It would create jobs in the U.S. 9.2%
  • It would add safeguards for online gamblers 5.4%

Survey Methodology

This survey was outsourced to a third party for data collection. Survey questions appeared on news, entertainment, reference and other websites as individual questions. Respondents were prompted to answer a survey question in order to access premium content on those websites.

Each respondent only saw one question, and that question was chosen at random. This process continued until each question had collected at least 1000 responses. No single respondent saw all four questions; each respondent only saw one question.

The survey was not hosted at because it was felt that hosting the survey at a gambling website would have skewed the results. Most visitors to already have an interest in gambling, so the survey was hosted at unrelated websites. The goal was to obtain the opinions of a broad cross section of Americans.

Interpreting the Results

It is interesting to note that although fewer than 7% of Americans have gambled online for real money within the past 12 months, a strong majority of Americans do not support the prohibition of online gambling. It is clear that US citizens favor a state-by-state approach or legalization at the federal level.

The arguments against online gambling reveal the concerns that Americans have regarding gambling. These answers should be noted by policymakers, casino operators and affiliates alike. The top three choices (addiction, unfair games and minors) were closely ranked as major concerns.

Policymakers should address those concerns with any proposed legislation. Casino operators and affiliates should address those concerns for their visitors to increase conversions and business. Online casino operators are encouraged to find new ways to assure the safety and health of online gamblers. Voluntary opt-out programs are worthwhile, but these are often hard to find and barely noted on gambling websites.

The “gambling is an immoral act” response was favored by a little more than 9% of respondents. This concern is difficult to address because it comes down to religious beliefs and opinion. The best way to address this concern is to remind those people that it is not the US government’s job to legislate morality.

The potential for money laundering was rated as the least of Americans’ concerns. This is worth noting because one of the primary cases politicians make against online gambling is the potential for terrorists to use gambling sites to launder money. The survey results indicate that this argument holds little weight with the American public.