The debate about online gambling in the United States is heating up, with those for or against strongly expressing their views on the subject. Surveys are regularly conducted by research organizations to accurately measure public sentiment about the matter, and to guide lawmakers in aid of legislation. One of the global research organizations that conduct surveys on the gambling industry is Ipsos S.A. Founded in 1975 by the economist Didier Truchot and Jean-Marc Lech a sociologist, the company is headquartered in Paris, France and operates in more than 60 countries doing research in more than 100 countries around the world. In 2009, Ipsos ranked No. 5 in terms of sales, and increased this by 20.9 percent in the succeeding year with total consolidated revenues of € 1.14 billion.
Of this, 32 percent came from its North American operations. In the first quarter of 2011, the company announced a growth of 9.8 percent in revenues. Ipsos offers a range of research services according to areas of specialization: Ipsos ASI (advertising research); Ipsos Marketing (market research); Ipsos MediaCT (media, content and technology research); Ipsos Public Affairs (corporate reputation and social research); Ipsos Loyalty (customer and employee research); and Ipsos Observer (survey management, data collection and delivery). Ipsos has more than 5,000 clients and interviews more than 25 million persons globally every year. Ipsos maintains a facility known as the Ipsos Social Research Institute. It examines the perceptions of citizens, the views of public service users and other stakeholders. The Institute aims to help governments and the public sector arrive at better decisions based on data and evidence. The Institute regularly publishes thought leadership reports that explore social issues. The Ipsos Research Methods Centre also works on adjustments needed in research methods brought about by social changes.
The Lottery and Gaming Group at Ipsos conducted a survey on the gambling industry, and the results of their latest survey, conducted online between April 29 and May 1, have just been released. Among the topics covered by the survey are: present and projected online gambling usage by Americans; regulation of online gambling; and the perception of the legality of online gambling in the United States. The survey results have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3%, 19 times out of 20. Present usage of online gambling by Americans in the last 12 months is reported at 9 percent. 13 percent of Americans would gamble online if the activity were legalized and regulated by the government in one form or another. Moreover, if the online gambling facility were offered by the respondents’ favorite land-based casino, 15 percent of respondents would engage in this activity.
Another issue covered by the survey is one which is of utmost concern to the online gambling industry and legislators around the United States. This issue revolves around the question of who should regulate online gambling if it were legalized: the federal government or the state. An Ipsos survey in 2010 also covered this topic. This year’s survey shows that 55 percent of Americans choose regulation by the state government, a complete turnaround compared with 55 percent in favor of federal regulation in the 2010 survey. There are two possible causes for this reversal, in the opinion of Paul Lauzon, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of the Ipsos Gaming and Lottery Group. First of all, the fact that many states have already started their own regulatory process could be influencing the public’s opinion about the proper body to oversee this activity. Secondly, the last elections put the Republicans in control of Congress, and their position against online gambling has undermined confidence in the federal government to secure the legalization of online gambling.
With regard to the perception of the legal status of online gambling in the country, the survey revealed that 41 percent of respondents thought that online gambling was illegal. This belief is probably influenced by the 2006 law prohibiting banks from processing payments of offshore gambling sites, and the Black Friday indictment of the founders of the top online poker rooms. This perception is held even though online gambling is still legal in the United States in spite of the recent government restrictions. The Ipsos gambling industry study is expected to serve as an important input into the ongoing discussions that will eventually shape the future of the online gambling business in the United States.