Americans are split over online gambling, but half think that legalizing it will increase the number of people with serious gambling problems

This week, after a short trial period, the state of New Jersey legalized online gambling. Already gambling sites are reporting over 10,000 users, who must live within the state of New Jersey. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has projected a huge increase in state revenue as a direct consequence of the new legislation.

According to the latest YouGov research, only 13% of Americans think that gambling online is immoral, but most Americans are pretty evenly split over approval of legalizing online gambling. Republicans are less approving (21%) than Independents (31%) and Democrats (36%). Also, unlike Democrats and Independents, Republicans are more likely to disapprove (36%) of legal online gambling than approve (21%) of it. 

In terms of other laws on gambling, answers were largely non-partisan, and more tolerant. While only 31% of Americans approve of legalizing online gambling, only 20% think it should be illegal, with many people being torn on the issue. People tend to be even more tolerant of gambling in other places, like casino's or a friends house. Younger people are also less inclined to think gambling should be illegal than older people- only 14% of people ages 30-44 thought it should be illegal, compared to 29% of those over 65.

Over half of all Americans (56%) have gambled in a casino before. In general, men are more likely to have gambled than women. Notably however men, more than women, think that gambling should be illegal. 24% of men think that gambling online should be illegal, while only 16% of women do.

Nearly half of all Americans (49%) think that the legalization of online poker will cause the number of people with gambling problems to increase, with only a minute 2% saying that it will decrease the number of problem gamblers. 

Hotel owners in Las Vegas, the largest casino city in the States, are already up in arms, with prominent hotel and casino owner Sheldon Adelson saying he is 'morally' opposed to online gambling and will dedicate himself to stopping it. 

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty Images

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