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Americans Might be Hedging their Best Bets

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Gamblers last year dropped a record $30.2 billion at the nation's 455 commercial casinos in 11 states.But the findings of an annual survey released Monday by the American Gaming Association suggested that Americans ardor for legalized gambling might be cooling.

Only 50 percent of respondents, the lowest figure since 2000, agreed with the statement that casino gambling is perfectly acceptable for anyone. On the flip side, 18 percent, the highest figure in six years, disagreed. There may be some erosion, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., the association's president, said Monday in a teleconference. There's been some negative publicity out there the past year,he said, citing the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Fahrehkopf noted that the Abramoff affair centered mostly on tribal casino gambling and did not taint his association's membership of privately owned, state-regulated commercial casinos. He also said that the survey variances fell within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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