New AGA Research Covers Online Gambling

12 May 2006

The American Gaming Association (AGA), which represents the commercial land-based casino entertainment industry in the United States, released its 2006 "State of the States: Survey of Casino Entertainment," and for the first time it included extensive information on Internet gambling.

For the last eight years, the AGA survey has examined the national and state-by-state economic impact of commercial casinos, as well as the continued growth of the racetrack casino sector. Internet gambling was added this year because its presence and impact could no longer be ignored.

"We strive to make each year's State of the States report the most comprehensive information resource not only on the current state of our industry," AGA President and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. explained, "but the most significant emerging trends in gaming, so it was important that we take a look at this growing phenomenon."

Using data from national opinion poll of U.S. casino gamblers conducted between Feb. 28 and March 5, 2006 by Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, which found that 4 percent of the U.S. population uses the Internet to gamble, the AGA wanted to find out who those people are and how their gambling habits compared to land-based casino patrons.

Peter D. Hart Research Associates polled 552 online gamblers on behalf of the AGA between March 18 and 21 and found that the typical online gambler is male, under 40 and college-educated with a yearly salary of over $60,000.

According to the data, 68 percent of online gamblers are male, compared to almost an equal division among those who visit bricks-and-mortar casinos (53 percent male vs. 47 percent female).

Online gamblers seem to be significantly younger, as well. Nearly 70 percent of those polled were under 40, with 43 percent between the ages of 21 to 29. By comparison, the same age range (21 to 40) for U.S. casinos made up less than 25 percent.

Pollsters asked online gamblers when they first began gambling on the Internet and 70 percent (approximately 386 people) of respondents only started in the last two years, providing further evidence that the popularity of Internet gambling continues to grow.

Eighty percent of respondents said Poker, not surprisingly, is most often their game of choice. And their favorite type of poker is, of course, Texas Hold'em. And among those who play games other than poker, 78 percent named blackjack as the game played most often. Video poker and slots each garnered about a 60 percent popularity rating and

Survey data revealed that some gamblers are concerned about the integrity of online gaming. More than half of respondents said they believe online gaming companies find ways to cheat customers and 46 percent believe that their fellow players cheat.

That distrust could be attributed to the anonymity and the solitude embedded in the very nature of the Internet. A virtual barrier is set up between the player and the "dealer."

"You can't actually see the action like you can in a brick and mortar casino," said AGA Communications Specialist Steve Arnoff, "and the online gambling sites are currently unlicensed and unregulated (in the United States). They are not run by established casino companies that they (gamblers) know and trust."

The most troubling data, perhaps, concerns the legality of online gambling which is evidently still a mystery to some gamblers. Only 19 percent of respondents believe that it is illegal in the United States, and 50 percent believe it is legal.

The AGA announced two weeks ago that while its position on legislation pertaining to online gambling remains neutral, it fully supports the creation of a one-year congressional study evaluating the impacts of Internet gambling.