Americans Oppose Ban to Internet Gambling
By staff
NEW YORK, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifty-five percent of Americans oppose government efforts to pass new laws that would prohibit Americans from gambling online, according to a nationwide survey released by the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) today. However, 55 percent of Americans would welcome government efforts to legalize the operation of online casinos within the United States so that the industry can be regulated.

The national poll of 1,000 American adults conducted Jan. 17 to Jan. 29 found that nearly three-quarters of the respondents (72 percent) agree with the statement that gambling is a form of entertainment that, if done in moderation, is no better or no worse than other activities, such as attending sporting events or going to the movies. In addition, 60 percent of those surveyed are concerned that a government ban on Internet gambling will lead to further government restrictions on what a person can and cannot do on the Internet.

'This survey clearly indicates that the public supports a person's right to gamble on the Internet, and opposes further government efforts to dictate what people do in the privacy of their own homes on their personal computers,' said Sue Schneider of the IGC. 'While we welcome government efforts to legalize and regulate the online gaming industry, we strongly believe that Americans have the right to spend their free time as they see fit. Responsible adults who enjoy visiting Internet gambling sites should be allowed to do so without the fear of being branded criminals by the government.'

Americans clearly recognize some of the benefits of legalizing and regulating Internet gaming sites. Overall, 59 percent of those surveyed agree with the notion that legalized gambling provides necessary revenue to states for funding government programs and keeping taxes under control.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and author of H.R. 1223, which calls for the creation of a Commission on Internet gambling licensing and regulation, said, 'Some Members of Congress believe they can somehow stop the millions of Americans who gamble online from visiting Internet sites by passing legislation to prevent the use of credit cards and other bank instruments to gamble the Internet. Just as outlawing alcohol did not work in the 1920's the current attempts to prohibit online gaming will not work either.'

One of the most important findings of the IGC's 2003 survey revealed that, when given the choice of (a) totally banning Internet gambling, (b) legalizing and regulating Internet gambling, or (c) leaving things as they are, only 28 percent of respondents support a total ban. Sixty-eight percent oppose a ban on Internet gambling, 34 percent favor the legalization and regulation of the industry, and 34 percent favor maintaining the status quo. Moreover, three-quarters of those surveyed say that it is hypocritical of the government to prevent people from gambling online while at the same time allowing people to purchase tickets for state lotteries online and to place Internet bets on horse races.

This survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, was conducted by First International Resources, a New Jersey-based public opinion research firm, with the polling firm of TNS/Intersearch.

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