January 24, 2008 07:01 ET

Canada And US Public Perceptions Of Internet Gambling

Overall Awareness Of Its Legality Is Dubious While Acceptance Of Internet Gambling Tied Closely To Age

Attention: Arts/Entertainment Editor, News Editor, Sports Editor NEW YORK/NY--(Marketwire - Jan. 24, 2008) - When it comes to the legality of Internet gambling, Canadians and Americans apparently have the wrong idea. These are the findings of two recent Ipsos Reid polls conducted with Canadians and Americans online as part of a joint Canada/US lottery survey.

The first Ipsos Reid poll on the topic, conducted between September 5 and September 9, 2007, shows that over 70% of Canadians (n=1361)1 believe gambling over the internet is considered to be legal. In the United States, 59% of Americans (n=1010)2 believe Internet gambling is a legal activity.

A more recent second poll conducted between January 3 and January 8 of 2008 replicated similar awareness levels in Canada (73% n=1247)3 , but indicated slightly fewer Americans (55%) believe that gambling over the Internet is considered to be legal (n=1403)4 .

The truth is, Internet gambling is illegal in Canada and is considered illegal in the United States. In the US, Internet gambling is illegal in a number of states, with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 focusing on financial transactions associated with Internet Gambling rather than the act of gambling itself. These are facts that may surprise the majority of the population.

One possible explanation for the minor shifts in awareness amongst Americans could be the recently intensified Republican and Democratic battle for primary elections across the nation. The heavy campaigning may have elevated some social issues to the forefront of Americans' minds.

The results of the poll, conducted online as part of a joint Canada/US lottery survey, show an interesting pattern of thought in relation to Internet gambling, namely it's not where you live, but when you were born that has the greater impact on what you believe about the subject.

"There is a clear difference of opinion between age groups (18-34, 35-54, and 55+), with the Canadian and US responses to the poll also exhibiting some interesting differences," Paul Lauzon, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Ipsos Reid's Lottery & Gaming Group explains. "Typically, there is a laddering pattern as we move from the 18-34 age group up to the 55+ category in that the proportion who believe that wagering money using the Internet is illegal increases from a low of 32% to a high of 49% in the US and a low of 20% to a high of 36% in Canada. While this pattern held true in the most recent January 2008 polling, the range of range of agreement that Internet wagering is illegal tightened somewhat to a low of 41% among US respondents and 23% among Canadian respondents (18-34 year olds) to a high of 46% among US respondents aged 55 or more and 29% among Canadians of the same age group."

This is most apparent in the responses as to whether Internet gambling should be (a) banned altogether, (b) regulated by the government, or (c) permitted without government regulation.

In both countries, the predominant viewpoint from citizens is that Internet gambling should be permitted in some form (US: Sep '07 - 72%, Jan '08 - 66% & Canada: Sep'07 - 68%, Jan '08 - 66%).More specifically, nearly identical proportions of respondents in both countries - 46% of Americans & 48% of Canadians - agreed that "Internet gambling should be permitted as long as it's regulated by the government".

During the more recent January polling, that number in Canada remained the same while it dropped 8 percentage points in the US. In fact, the proportion of Americans who believe that Internet gambling should be banned altogether increased significantly from 28% in September 2007 to 35% in early January of this year. "Again, we speculate that the intense media coverage of Republican and Democratic campaigning in the US is a likely factor in bringing various social issues, such as Internet gambling, to the attention of Americans," concludes Paul Lauzon.

The data also shows statistically significant differences in the proportion of US (Sep.'07 - 26% & Jan.'08 - 28%) and Canadian (Sep.'07 - 20% & Jan.'08 - 18%) respondents and their agreement with "permitting Internet gambling without government regulation". Older Americans and Canadians (aged 55+) tend to be more supportive of an all out ban on Internet gambling, whereas their younger cohorts (ages 18-34) were more supportive of both regulated and unregulated Internet gambling.

"The differences observed between the various age categories are not that surprising to our researchers," says Paul Lauzon. "Ipsos has been conducting polling and market research within the gaming industry in North America for more than two decades. During this time, research has consistently revealed a negative relationship between age and acceptability of gaming activities."

One final issue that was addressed in this recent polling was to inquire as to which arm of government should regulate Internet gaming if it were to be legal. Among those who believe that Internet gambling should be regulated by government, Canadian and US citizens mirrored each other during the September 2007 poll with the majority (59% in Canada & 60% in the US) believing that the federal government should regulate this activity over state or provincial governments. The more recent January 2008 polling still showed majority support for federal government regulation, however, this support shifted down in the US (55%) and up in Canada (67%).

1Margin of error is +/- 2.66%, at the 95% confidence interval
2Margin of error is +/- 3.08%, at the 95% confidence interval
3Margin of error is +/- 2.78%, at the 95% confidence interval
4Margin of error is +/- 2.62%, at the 95% confidence interval

Both American and Canadian Omnibus polls were conducted using Ipsos' Online Panel. Omni respondents are recruited randomly from Ipsos Online Panel. Online Panel participants are recruited and screened using rigorous double and triple opt-in checks to ensure that respondents want to receive our information and survey material. When using panel sample, response rates typically range from 30 to 50%.<

In Canada, questionnaires are completed online in English with the exception of Quebec, where respondents are offered a choice of either official language. In the US, all questionnaires are completed online in English.

Invitations to participate in each survey are adjusted to reflect the most recent Current Population Data provided by either the U.S. Census/Statistics Canada. Data is then weighted to match the national population on the following demographics:

Gender (male / female)
Age (18 to 34 / 35 to 54 / 55+)
Household income (Under $25K / $25K-<$50K / $50K-<$75K / $75K+)
US Region (Northeast / Midwest / South / West)
Canadian Region (BC, Alberta, Manitoba/Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic)

All Ipsos News Releases are available online at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/


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