Over 80% Of Pennsylvanians Reject Proposal to Criminalize Online Poker Play

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Pennsylvania State Rep. Mario Scavello recently announced plans to criminalize the act of playing online poker and casino games.

His proposal immediately drew the support of the Sheldon Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG).

But, according to polling conducted, by OnlinePokerReport, Scavello’s bill contradicts the will of an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania voters.

Over 80% of state opposes Scavello’s attempt to criminalize online poker

We asked 500 individuals located in Pennsylvania the following question:

PA State Rep. Mario Scavello wants to make playing online poker a crime punishable by jail time. Do you support or oppose his position?

The vast majority – 82.2% – said that they opposed Scavello’s proposal to make playing online poker or casino games a crime in Pennsylvania.

That left only 17.8% of respondents supporting Scavello’s attempt to slap a misdemeanor charge carrying a fine – and potential jail time – on individuals who play at poker sites or casinos over the Internet.

PA online poker poll

Scavello’s bill, which is currently a placeholder, would see Pennsylvania join Washington State as the only states with explicit criminal penalties for playing online poker.

To what end is unclear; to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever been charged under Washington State law for playing poker online.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are currently considering regulating some forms of online gambling. Scavello’s bill would presumably only apply to play on unregulated sites.

Polling conducted via Google Consumer Surveys. Read more about the validity of GCS polling below.

Rejection consistent across age, gender and income level

The negative reaction to Scavello’s proposal was not limited to any one demographic group:

  • Men and women rejected his proposal with equal frequency.
  • A majority of respondents from all population densities (urban, suburban, rural) rejected the proposal.
  • Pennsylvanians of all age groups opposed Scavello’s plan by a massive majority.  The two groups that expressed the greatest opposition were 18-24 year olds (91%) and 55-64 year olds (88%).
  • The same trend held when you divide respondents by income bracket.

View the complete data set of the survey here (csv file).

More about Google Consumer Surveys

Google Consumer Surveys have been praised as a valid, accurate tool for sampling public opinion by everyone from Nate Silver to Pew Research.

Read the GCS Validation Overview here and learn more about GCS here.

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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