A loaded deck

Pew Research Center today released survey results of American adults' views on gambling. They report that most Americans (70%) feel legalized gambling encourages people to gamble more than they can afford. However almost the same percentage (71%) approves of lotteries as a means to raise state revenue. Less than a third (23%) say they enjoy betting, during a period which saw a sharp increase in high profile betting, including casino and slot machines. Industry estimates for 2005, for example, report that 890 casinos "took in more than $52 billion in gross revenues," and that 41 states sold $52 billion in lottery ticket sales. $13 billion alone is estimated to have been wagered online in Internet gambling. The most common form of betting is the state lottery with over one-half of the adult population claiming to have purchased a lottery ticket in the past year.

The Pew survey conducted February 2006 found the negatitive attitude "appears to be driven by concerns that people are gambling too much rather than by any revival of the once common view that gambling is immoral." 42% felt casinos had a negative impact on communities while 34% say a positive impact.

Interestingly enough, Pew found:
Just 9% of gamblers say they sometimes gamble more than they should...Similarly, when respondents (whether or not they gamble) were asked whether gambling has ever been a source of problems within their family, just 6% said that it has.
Gambling: As the Take Rises, So Does Public Concern
(available in pdf, 184KB, from Pew)

In a related story also published today, Stateline.org reports, State Governments Now Depend on the Proceeds to Finance their Budgets:
...the lure of easy new money for schools, tax relief and public services has led to an explosion of state-sanctioned casinos, slot machines at racetracks and lottery games.


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