A survey conducted by the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows that the majority of voters in the state of Virginia would agree to legalizing sports betting. The findings, published this week, are the result of a study involving more than 800 registered Virginia voters between November 14 and 30.
The study noted: “Following the US Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned a federal law that generally banned sports betting, legislation will be introduced in Virginia to legalize sports betting and casinos. A majority of Virginia voters (63%) agree that sports betting should be allowed. A strong majority (77%) say that sports betting will provide tax revenue to the state.”
Voters, however, were split on whether legalizing sports betting will keep criminals out of the business, with 51% agreeing that it will and 43% disagreeing.
The report confirmed: “Interest in allowing legal casino gambling has grown since the Pamunkey Indians announced plans to build a casino in Virginia. A majority of Virginia voters (64%) say the tribe should be allowed to open a casino in Virginia, and 58% say that if a tribal casino is allowed, other casinos should also be allowed.”
Looking at demographics, the survey revealed: “Support for allowing other casinos to open is strongest among men (64%), African Americans (74%), and voters in Northern Virginia (66%) and Hampton Roads (70%). Support is lowest among women (52%) and voters in South/Southwest (39%). Voters agree (57%-38%) that casinos in economically distressed areas could help by creating jobs and generating tax revenue for those areas. If sports betting and casinos are allowed, voters say, tax revenue collected should fund education or the general fund before transportation, health care or other things.”
“Virginia voters are ready for legalized sports betting and casinos, just like they were ready for the lottery 30 years ago,” said Rachel Bitecofer, assistant director of the Wason Center. “And just as education funding was a justification to open the door to gambling then, directing gambling taxes to education seems to appeal to voters today.”
Asked to say which would be their top arguments for and against allowing sports betting and casinos in Virginia, voters are generally mixed in their arguments in favor, with 32% saying sports betting and casinos will produce more tax revenue; 25% saying people already do it so it should be regulated and taxed; and 29% saying regulating it will make it safer. When it comes to arguments against sports betting and casinos, nearly half (43%) say they will promote gambling addiction; 28% say they will promote the wrong values; and 17% say they will promote crime.