Mario Scavello, representative of the state of Pennsylvania, recently revealed his plans to ban online casino and online poker games. As soon as he did this, the National Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), an anti-gambling coalition founded, funded, and supported by Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, expressed its support for his plans. The people of Pennsylvania, however, think differently, as indicated by a GCS poll.

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OnlinePokerReport.com conducted a survey on the issue, and found that Scavello’s proposals do not have the support of a huge majority of the voters in Pennsylvania. On the contrary, more than 80 percent of the voters in the state are not in favor of criminalizing the act of playing online casino and poker games.

OnlinePokerReport.com asked 500 residents of Pennsylvania: “PA State Rep. Mario Scavello wants to make playing online poker a crime punishable by jail time. Do you support or oppose his position?”

A huge chunk of the respondents—82.2 percent, to be exact—clearly stated that they are not in favor of Scavello’s proposals to criminalize the act of playing casino and poker games in the state. Only 17.8 percent of the respondents say that they support Scavello’s plans to make playing online casino and poker games a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and/or fine.

If Scavello’s bill becomes successful, Pennsylvania will become the second US state after Washington to slap criminal penalties on online poker players. Interestingly, no citizen has been charged in Washington for playing poker games online.

Currently, lawmakers in Pennsylvania are weighing the pros and cons of regulating certain forms of Internet gambling. Scavello’s bill, therefore, would apply only to the act of playing online poker and casino games at unlicensed and unregulated online gambling sites.

OnlinePokerReport.com conducted the survey through Google Consumer Surveys (GCS), one of the most reliable ways to hold a poll. People of all levels of income, age groups, and gender said they do not support Scavello’s proposals. Respondents residing in rural, urban, as well as suburban areas of Pennsylvania expressed their non-support. The people who strongly opposed Scavello’s plans were in the age group of 55 – 64 (88 percent) and 18 – 24 (91 percent). Difference in income level also does not appear to make much of a difference to the way Pennsylvanians think about online gambling.

GCS has been widely acclaimed as an accurate, reliable, and valid tool to sample public opinion and has been widely used.

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