ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A new poll finds more New Jersey residents want to smoke pot than gamble over the Internet.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll finds 41 percent of respondents would support smoking marijuana recreationally if it became legal. That compares with only 32 percent who support gambling over the Internet, which is legal in New Jersey now.
The poll finds support for online gambling has fallen, even as it enters its third full month and more than 150,000 online gambling accounts have been set up in the state.
"The public's attitude was, for several years, warming up to online gambling," said poll director Krista Jenkins. "But there has been a clear change in direction now that the practice has actually been legalized. Part of the public has always shown deep reluctance to make gambling so accessible in their own homes. Now that it is in fact legal, they may be more concerned than ever."
Internet gambling began Nov. 21 in New Jersey with a five-day trial period, followed by a full statewide launch Nov. 26. Through the end of the year, it took in nearly $8.4 million. The state will report January online revenue numbers in about two weeks.
The poll found 57 percent opposed to Internet gambling, up from 46 percent in March 2013. Donald Hoover, a senior lecturer of hospitality management at the university, said the increased opposition may be a reflection of residents' annoyance at heavy advertising from New Jersey casinos.
Those who say they visited a casino in the last 12 months are significantly more likely to support online gambling. About 40 percent support it, while 28 percent of those who haven't recently visited a casino do so.
As far as recreational marijuana use, the poll found 80 percent of voters have heard or read "a lot" or "some" news about states that have recently legalized the drug.
People who have tried marijuana were more likely to support using it recreationally.
"These numbers point to the possibility that fertile ground exists in the state for those looking to expand legalization beyond medicinal use," Jenkins said. "Policymakers will likely be watching for changes in public opinion as the percentage difference between those in favor and opposed gets closer to the 50/50 mark. Right now, however, a majority of the public remains opposed."
The poll of 734 registered voters in New Jersey was conducted by landline telephones and cellphones from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.