The average casino gambler closely mirrors the average American, a gamblin g industry-sponsored national survey shows, though critics dismissed the results.
“When you’re talking about people who regularly attend casinos, they are totally in sync with the average American,” said Frank Fahrenkopf, American Gaming Association chief executive, in releasing survey results Thursday.
The survey says that the percentage of casino patrons who own their own home, have an annual family income of more than $60,000 and read a newspaper daily is slightly higher than the general public.
“These poll results show that casino customers are just like average Americans, and in many areas, such as income and home ownership, they excel,” Fahrenkopf said.
Critics counter that such surveys are disingenuous.
“You can get statistics to say whatever you want them to say,” said David Robertson, board member and former chairman of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. “To say gambling’s not a vice and it’s as American as apple pie is to close your eyes to what the real facts are.”
The Cody, Wyo., dentist compared the gambling industry to the tobacco industry, saying that both make their livings off addicts.
“Gambling is a predatory industry that preys on the weakest members of society,” Robertson said.
Fahrenkopf said gambling opponents attempt to portray casino gamblers as people who are out of the mainstream, mentally ill or anti-social.
“What we do with these things (surveys) are try to show that these claims are false,” he said.
The American Gaming Association, the industry’s Washington-based lobby group, commissioned the random poll of 900 adult Americans nationwide by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and The Luntz Research Companies. A 441-person oversample of gamblers also was conducted. The margin of error for the total sample is 3 percent, researcher Frank Luntz said.
“We chose these (10) questions to reflect American values and behavior,” he said. “These people (casino gamblers) are part of the American fabric.”
The association has commissioned the survey for the past four years, Fahrenkopf said.
Past sample groups include those who regularly attend church, senior citizens and those living in communities with casinos.
“This year we decided to do something a little different and try to profile the average casino patron,” Fahrenkopf said.
The release of the survey results kicked off the association’s yearlong national campaign to emphasize that casino customers represent a slice of America — “Just like US.”
An estimated 28 percent of Americans visit a casino at least once a year, Fahrenkopf said.
Among the survey’s findings were that 66 percent of average Americans donate at least $100 of their annual income to charity, while 69 percent of casino gamblers say they do and 45 percent of average Americans attend religious services at least once a week compared with 41 percent of casino gamblers.
The results demonstrate the growing acceptance of Online Casino Singapore in America, but the industry still has a long way to go to change the negative perceptions surrounding it, Fahrenkopf said.
“About 15 percent of people across the board are opposed to gambling,” he said.
Arnie Wexler, a former compulsive gambler, questioned why the survey didn’t ask respondents if they had a gambling problem.
The 64-year-old consultant trains casino employees about how to spot compulsive gamblers.
“Most people can gamble and they are never going to get into trouble, but a small percentage of people have a gambling problem,” Wexler said. “I think the industry is working toward responsible gambling programs and moving in the right direction in training their staffs.”
Wexler also questioned the assertion that casino patrons are patriotic — the survey said 71 percent of casino patrons fly an American flag outside their home or on their car compared with 67 percent of average Americans.
“The numbers mean nothing and they know it means nothing, it’s just good PR,” he said.
“If it’s patriotic to gamble, would it be patriotic to smoke a cigarette or drink a beer?