A new poll finds that 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana use, while 27 percent support legalizing Internet gambling. (Wayne Parry, Associated Press file)

Poll: Americans prefer legal pot over online gambling

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Americans are split over whether marijuana should be legalized for recreational use, according to a poll released Thursday. But the same poll finds them solidly opposed to online gambling.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll finds that 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana use, while 27 percent support legalizing Internet gambling in the 47 states that don’t allow it.

The poll examined public attitudes about two activities that are taking place whether legal or not, said Krista Jenkins, the poll’s director and a professor of political science at the university.

Far more Americans are paying attention to news on marijuana legalization than online gambling, with 86 percent saying say they’ve heard of or read about legalization efforts. The poll found that 65 percent of respondents are not closely following news about Internet gambling.

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By a ratio of 2-to-1, Democrats (63 percent) favor legalization more than Republicans (32 percent), with independents (58 percent) more closely aligned with Democrats.

Young people also are far more supportive of legalization, with 65 percent of the millennial generation and over half of Gen Xers (56 percent) in favor, compared with fewer than half (48 percent) of baby boomers and around a third (36 percent) of the World War II generation.

“Democrats see getting high as a lifestyle choice, whereas Republicans are more likely to understand it through the prism of morality and social deviance,” Jenkins said. “However, the age differences we’re seeing suggest that legal (pot) smoking in the future is more a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if.'”

Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana use, and several other states are considering it. Numerous others have approved medical marijuana use.

Although only New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware currently allow Internet gambling, at least 10 other states are or recently considered legalizing it.

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“Right now online gambling looks to be a long shot in the court of public opinion,” Jenkins said.

When asked if they favor or oppose allowing casinos to run online gambling for people in their states, 63 percent are opposed, with 27 percent approving. The numbers are largely unchanged from when similar questions were asked in 2012 and 2010.

The nationwide poll of 1,151 adults ages 18 and older who reside in the United States was conducted by telephone with both landline and cellphones from April 21-27. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.


Wayne Parry can be reached at on Twitter, @WayneParryAC

This story was first published on DenverPost.com