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Most in NJ oppose new casinos beyond Atlantic City, poll finds

Friday, June 26, 2015   (0 Comments)
Share | 06/24/15

Supporters of a measure to end Atlantic City’s nearly four-decade-old monopoly on casino gambling face significant opposition from New Jersey residents, according to the results of a poll released today. The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll found that 56 percent of state residents are opposed to expanding casino gambling beyond Atlantic City, with just 37 percent in favor. The results are largely unchanged from a similar poll released in February. But the deadline for state election officials to approve a question for the November ballot is quickly approaching. The ballot must be finalized by Aug. 3, and the process for approving a ballot question requires a public hearing, public comment period and approval by three-fifths of both the state Senate and Assembly. The Legislature is scheduled to finish its business for the summer next Tuesday.

Sweeney recently said that such a question might have a better chance to win the public’s support in 2016, a presidential election year when a higher voter turnout is expected. He also criticized as distracting a recent spate of news conferences advocating casino proposals in various parts of the state, including a Hard Rock Meadowlands casino at the Meadowlands Racetrack and a $4 billion casino and resort in Jersey City. Officials also made a pitch this month for building a casino in Newark. Elected officials in Sussex, Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Mercer counties have also suggested that their areas should be considered options for casino expansion. The PublicMind poll found that New Jersey residents were split on the question of whether a portion of tax revenue from any non-Atlantic City casino should be diverted to aid Atlantic City — an arrangement that Sweeney has insisted on — with 42 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed.

Just over a third of residents said that they would be more likely to visit a New Jersey casino in a place other than Atlantic City, while 31 percent said they would still visit Atlantic City even if it lost its casino monopoly. Of those who said they would travel elsewhere, they chose the Meadowlands as their most likely destination by a large margin. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they would travel there, as opposed to 49 percent for Monmouth Park, 41 percent for Jersey City and 29 percent for Newark. Forty percent said that non-gaming attractions would be the main factor in choosing where to visit, twice as many as those who said proximity to home was paramount. The poll surveyed 931 adults via telephone June 15-21. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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