YE 2018 Top Stories-Mississippi

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2018, file photo, of Marvin Werkley, of Mobile, Ala., looks over wagering sheets at the IP Casino Resort & Spa in Biloxi, Miss., before making a bet. Among the top stories during 2018 in Mississippi was that legalized sports betting began after a U.S. Supreme Court decision. (John Fitzhugh/The Sun Herald via AP, File)

A majority of Louisiana residents support legalizing sports betting and allowing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, a new LSU poll found. 

The sixth and final report from the 2019 Louisiana Survey shows 59 percent support legalizing gambling on professional sporting events, and 35 percent oppose it. 

On recreational marijuana, 55 percent of Louisiana residents support allowing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, with 42 percent opposing. 

With both issues, there is a sharp generational divide, with younger people tending to support legalizing both sports betting and marijuana, and older people leaning more against. Support for sports betting is also significantly stronger in metro New Orleans compared to other regions. 

Legalizing recreational marijuana won wide support, 80 percent, among 18 to 29 year-olds, and 67 percent support from 30 to 49 year-olds. But around half of 50 to 64 year-olds support it, and a large majority, 69 percent, of people older than 65 oppose recreational marijuana. 

Similarly, only about 38 percent of people 65 years or older support allowing sports betting, compared to 74 percent of young people. 

The poll, conducted by the Reilly Center for Media & Public affairs at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication, also shows Louisianans oppose certain gun control policies, like restricting the sale of assault weapons or high capacity magazines. Fifty-seven percent oppose banning the sale of assault weapons, and 61 percent oppose banning high-capacity magazines, the poll shows. 

Most residents support at least one form of expanding gun rights, with 59 percent wanting the state to allow the carry of concealed guns in more places. Preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns was the only restriction included in the survey that won majority support, at 69 percent. 

The 2019 Louisiana Survey, released in recent weeks, has found wide support for a higher minimum wage, protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and the state's criminal justice reforms. It also found most think the state is heading in the right direction. 

Teacher pay raises, minimum wage hike garner big support in new LSU survey

Lawmakers could move to legalize sports betting during the Legislative session that began last week, as bipartisan support has grown. After the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for states to allow sports betting last year, the Legislature failed to put a measure on the ballot to allow voters decide whether it should be legal in Louisiana. 

Bills to loosens the state's stance on marijuana have also been filed, but Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has repeatedly said he does not support allowing marijuana for recreational use. 

Louisiana does have a tightly-regulated medical marijuana program, though it will only be allowed in certain non-smokable forms. The program has been delayed several times since being implemented several years ago, and patients still don't have access to the drug. 

The poll was based on a statewide sample of 917 adults living in Louisiana and was conducted by researchers at the LSU Public Policy Research Lab from Feb. 7 to March 15. It has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points. 


Follow Sam Karlin on Twitter, @samkarlin.