MADISON, NJ - As it stands now, odds favor November’s referendum to amend the New Jersey constitution to accommodate the possibility of sports-betting in casinos and racetracks. According to the most recent statewide poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™, 53% of voters say they favor making sports-betting legal at Atlantic City casinos and racetracks, while 30% oppose it. Another 17% say they are not sure.
The question is not high on the radar of voters. Two-thirds (66%) say they have heard little or nothing about it.
“The good news for those who favor sports betting is that it is not a partisan issue,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. About as many Democrats favor it (56%) as Republicans (52%).
However, there are important differences between men’s and women’s attitudes. One in five men (19%) say they have “a lot” of interest in the question, and they are twice as likely as women (10%) to say they have “a lot” of interest in the question.
Moreover, nearly two thirds of men (63%) favor legalizing sports-betting, but fewer than half of women (43%) favor it.
Younger voters are far more likely to favor legalization than older voters. Almost four out of five (78%) of young voters, ages 18 to 34, favor legalization, contrasting sharply with those older. Middle-aged voters, from 35 to 54, favor the proposition by a 5-to-3 margin (52%-33%). Older voters, 55 and over, favor it by a slimmer margin of 45%-35% with one in five not sure (20%).
“But younger voters have no stronger interest in the issue than older voters,” said Woolley, “and they are far less likely to vote than other voters, especially this year, with no national or statewide candidates on the ballot.”
Those who say they have a lot of interest in the issue, favor legalization by more than two to one (66%-29%).
“As always,” said Woolley, “a lot depends on who actually shows up to vote, who reads the fine print at the bottom of the ballot, and who understands the obscure language of the question.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 711 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from March 29 through April 4, 2011, and has a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.