The means used to conduct a poll – indicating that Pennsylvanians are “adamantly opposed” to online gambling – destroys the poll´s credibility.
Last week, Sheldon Adelson´s “Campaign to Stop Internet Gambling” (CSIG) published the results of a poll that indicated 73% of Pennsylvania voters were adamantly opposed to Internet gambling in the Keystone State.
Saying it was rare that three-quarters of voters agreed on anything, the CSIG also published a chart which suggested that
voters are three times more likely to vote against legislators who support Internet gambling. We assume this was just in case any member of the House Gaming Oversight Committee was still sitting on the fence.
Poll Dissected and Found Unconvincing
The poll was conducted by the “robo-polling” firm Harper Polling. “Robo-polling”, for those who do not know, is when voters get called up and are asked to respond to a series of automated statements. The responses are then compiled and conclusions are drawn in support of whichever entity is funding the research.
On Saturday, Earl Burton from PokerNewsDaily did a fantastic job of dismantling the poll and ridiculing it for its small percentage sample (just 513 people were contacted in the compilation of the poll). Burton also said that there was no indication of the way in which the statements were presented, which is a key point in determining the credibility of the poll´s conclusions.
Imagine You Know Nothing about Internet Gambling
Here at PokerRealMoney, we located the statements. We believe that that they were designed with one motive in mind – to oppose online gambling in Pennsylvania – and they could have been written by Sheldon Adelson himself! So, imagine you know nothing about Internet gambling and you received an automated call that went something like this:
Hello Tim, I am going to read you a series of statements about online gambling. Please tell me whether each statement makes you more or less likely to favor legislation to legalize online gambling in Pennsylvania.
(So, now I have to press a button after each statement to indicate whether or not I favor the regulation of online gambling in Pennsylvania. There were six statements in all. The figures in brackets indicate the percentage of respondents who were less likely to favor legislation).
- Legalizing online gambling in Pennsylvania will make it easy for children to be exposed to and participate in gambling, since it is nearly impossible to prevent minors from gambling online (80%).
- The legislation being considered in the state legislature does not contain specific language to prevent “bad actors,” or people or businesses with a history of illegal activity, from being part of Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry (77%).
- As the FBI told Congress last year, “online casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes, and
may provide more opportunities for criminals to launder illicit proceeds with increased anonymity.(76%)
- Traditional brick and mortar casinos in Pennsylvania have already had significant impacts on their local economies through job creation and community development. Online gambling is a job killer that does not involve any local community investment (76%).
- Online gambling is designed to replace people with computers and would threaten both existing jobs and future job creation at casinos in Pennsylvania (76%).
- In the three states that have legalized online gambling, state revenue from taxes on online gambling has been minimal and has fallen well short of projections (74%).
So, now I have responded to the six statements, I have just been “enlightened” to the impact of online gambling in Pennsylvania and had my opinions corrupted. I am then asked to answer these three questions:
- Do you favor or oppose legislation to legalize online gambling in Pennsylvania? (73% oppose)
- Do you agree that there are a number of key problems and potential abuses with online gambling that do not exist with traditional casino gambling? (83% agree)
- Would you be more likely or less likely to vote to re-elect your state legislator if they strongly opposed legalizing online gambling in the state? (54% more likely, 26% no difference, 16% less likely, 4% don’t know).
What if the Results of the CSIG Poll Were True?
Of course, 73% of respondents could be opposed to online gambling legislation because they are all playing at Americas Cardroom, and the introduction of regulated poker would affect their ROI. But, if the results of the CSIG poll were true, they could be manipulated to draw the following conclusions:
- 20% of Pennsylvanians are in favor of under-age gambling
- 23% of respondents are in favor of businesses with a history of illegal activity
- 24% are happy for criminals to launder money through online gambling
- 24% are opposed to job creation (twice)
- 26% have no interest in the state getting revenue from online gambling (definitely playing at Americas Cardroom).
Nobody would believe those figures, so why should CSIG be surprised when we discredit theirs?