The thing about studies is, you can generally get them to support just about any viewpoint on just about anything, depending on who’s involved and how you interpret the data. And when it’s mega-billionaire Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson funding the findings, you can be sure the studies will go any which way you want ’em to.
Adelson No iGaming Fan Himself
It’s no news that Adelson – for reasons that are not entirely clear to the rest of the mostly pro-iGaming casino industry – is vehemently, adamantly opposed to the whole concept of Internet gambling. He has been known to refer to the very concept as “a cancer waiting to happen” and “a toxin which all good people ought to resist,” and even funded TV and print ads this past summer towards that end.
Now Adelson’s commissioned poll results on this topic have been obtained and released by Nevada public affairs reporter Jon Ralston. The findings focus on four potentially key states in this matter: California, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. Kentucky? Who knew. And even seasoned journalist Ralston – who hosts the nightly Las Vegas political news show “Face to Face” – has noted on his blog that the findings of the study were “quite startling”; mainly, the rather obviously self-serving leanings towards land gaming and away from the Internet version of the same. Namely, legal brick-and-mortar casinos were found to be “a way to generate revenue for the state,” with approval ratings ranging from high of 66 percent in Pennsylvania (which has already proved as much with their recent growth in that arena), 61 percent in Kentucky, 57 percent in California and 54 percent in Virginia.
But the opinions on iGaming were not quite so friendly.
State Budget Crises Affect Outlooks
Particularly interesting there is that neither Kentucky nor Virginia actually have any legal land casinos at this juncture in time. For Pennsylvania and California, the support stemmed largely from a desire to help offset state budget deficits, even though land-based casino saturation nationwide is already starting to rear its ugly head and there is more flatlining to come, according to some industry experts. In fact, the latest land casino to go up in Pennsylvania – Isle of Capri, located in southwestern area Farmington – has already been forced to layoff 15 percent of its workforce only two months after opening.
Virginia study participants reportedly showed a disdain for “Las Vegas-style gaming.” We guess that’s different than say, “Indian casino-style gaming” or “politicians-from-the-suburbs-style gaming.” What?
Where this supposedly unbiased study gets interesting is with its reported findings on Internet gambling, however. Because, according to this study, in all four queried states, 3x as many of those who participated did not have a positive view of iGaming, with an overall average margin off 66-22 on the “we don’t like it” side of the fence. Depending on wording (surprise, surprise), the views shifted slightly, and Kentucky and Virginia participants stated most vehemently that they were in favor of online casino bans, by 63-27 and 55-33 margins respectively.
The poll did not clearly differentiate between general Internet gambling and online poker per se, however, and before anyone freaks out too much about what any of this could potentially mean for the future of state-by-state iGaming being regulated and legalized, remember that, according to poker advocate Marco Valerio back in 2011, 67 percent of New Jerseyans were dead set against online casinos, and we see how that played out.