Last month, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released its latest research about how Americans view the casino industry.
One only had to listen to the debates while online casino gambling in West Virginia was up for a vote in the legislature earlier this year to hear a mixed bag of opinions.
Gambling, which was once seen as degenerate behavior, is now seen as vital to the local economy.
“The favorability of our industry has never been higher,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AGA.
“As gaming expands across the US, and more Americans engage with our industry’s offerings, they see firsthand gaming’s positive impact on local economies and its value as a community partner. I’m committed to continuing the association’s work to translate gaming’s vast popularity into political capital, one of my top priorities for AGA.”
Casinos do an economy good
The AGA study, conducted by the Mellman Group, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the country.
It found 49% of Americans have a positive view of the casino industry. That is four percentage points higher than a similar study conducted last year.
It just so happens that how people view the casino industry coincides with 44% more American adults visiting a casino in the past 12 months.
Almost half (49%) of those surveyed said they plan to revisit a casino in the coming year. That figure represents 124 million adult Americans and is good for an 8% increase from last year.
It’s not just the perception around gambling at a casino that has shifted, either. There is a growing belief that the casino industry has a positive impact on the communities it serves.
More than half of those surveyed (57%) think casinos contribute to local economies. Additionally, 71% recognize the casino industry as a major supplier for local jobs.
Online casino gambling is exploding across the US. This year, the effort to legalize online casinos in West Virginia succeeded. According to the West Virginia Lottery, online casinos will likely launch in early 2021.
Support for online sports betting continues to grow
A positive view of the casino industry is not the only thing moving in the right direction. Sports betting opinions are also increasing more favorably.
The Sharkey Institute at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University surveyed 714 Americans 21 and older about sports betting.
The study showed the majority of the public (55%) supports the current sports betting legalization activity that allows states to control the process.
A quarter of those surveyed believes sports betting should be legal throughout the entire country.
West Virginia sports betting law allows betting on both college and professional sports. Not quite half of those surveyed (44%) support betting on both.
States like New Jersey and New York, however, exclude betting on in-state colleges. The majority of respondents (58%) are against such a restriction.
It’s no surprise that sports betting is growing in popularity. One has to look at the number of states taking up sports betting legislation in the last year to understand why opinions are changing.
Online sports betting and casino gambling as entertainment
An important reason why opinions on both online sports betting and casino gambling are more positive is because of how Americans view the activity.
Gambling for entertainment is something people can understand and assign value.
Over two-thirds of Americans (67%) believe gambling is a form of high-quality entertainment. Additionally, 88% believe gambling is an acceptable fun activity.
A big part of viewing gambling as entertainment is responsible gaming. Setting budgets, tracking time and money spent in a casino, and an awareness of gambling resources can help keep gambling fun.
In a separate study from the AGA, a view into the habits of casual and avid gamblers could help others keep gambling under control.
The AGA surveyed showed that:
- 90% of casual bettors set a budget before visiting a casino
- 90% track spending
- 80% casual gamblers and 90% avid gamblers are aware of responsible gaming resources
As part of the legislation, the WV Lottery provides several responsible gambling resources and offers access to many more.
West Virginia online sports betting benefits the state
Overall, these studies show what West Virginia already knows, which is when gambling is done responsibly, it does an economy good.
Since the launch of sports betting in West Virginia, sportsbooks paid over $2 million to the state.
And from the beginning, the West Virginia Lottery has generated more than $9.98 billion in proceeds from casinos, racetracks and the lottery.
Those funds are distributed to programs that serve disadvantaged populations in the state, including:
- Schools and education improvements
- Quality of life enhancements for senior citizens
- Tourism and state park promotions and protections
Be sure to set a budget, track your spending and head to your favorite WV sportsbook for game day. When you do, know that your entertainment budget is doing some good.