Monday, March 17, 2008

Plurality Against Casinos in Mass

There's a new poll (pdf) out today, showing support for casinos continues to shrink to the point where there's now a plurality of the state against casinos in Massachusetts, and a very large majority against a casino nearby their home. It's still a close contest, but as more and more people learn about casinos, it's clear the state is shifting against them. Momemtum's turned the tide just in time for tomorrow's ever-important casino hearing, which I'll not only be attending, but will make a live report from the Gardner Auditorium.

Furthermore, while the numbers are still close on whether or not someone would support a casino away from their home in Massachusetts (though, again, still a plurality against it), it's clear that the opposition to casinos is far more fired up.

"Opponents were much more emphatic in their stance on casinos with 26% of respondents indicating they were ‘strongly' opposed, compared to 17 percent who where ‘strongly' in favor."
The survey also queried people's thoughts about a casino situated locally. First, the poll asked people if they'd support a casino in their own community. Unsuprisingly, 67% of the state opposes a casino in their municipality, with another 11% neutral. The next question asked was in regard to counties - which doesn't really make sense in Massachusetts, given that not many people think in relation to their county, since Massachusetts doesn't have a strong county-based government (compared to most states). It would have made more sense to ask people if they'd support a casino within a certain commute or within a certain range of miles to their home, but still the numbers are pretty damning.

"Are you in favor of a casino in your county?", with 38 percent strongly opposed, 11 percent somewhat opposed, 15 percent neutral, 21 percent somewhat in favor, and 16 percent strongly in favor.
No matter how anyone looks at it, there just isn't strong support to put a casino anywhere in Massachusetts. People don't want a casino nearby them, and here's a conservative estimate of what it would look like if Class 3 gambling is ever legalized in Massachusetts:

Obviously, if people don't want casinos within close range of their homes, then they don't want Governor Patrick's plan to pass, nor any plan that would legalize slot machines and open up the potential for Native American casinos and racinos on top of them. It's no wonder the forces who tried to push for casinos in Massachusetts seem to be on their last breath. No community is enthusiastically jumping to be the first to build a casino, even if a few politicians would just love to get their greasy fingers on those campaign contributions shiny headlines of overinflated jobs that ignore the true economic impact casinos have on communities.

The fact of the matter is if residents of one town aren't willing to build a casino in their own town, they shouldn't thrust a casino on another. A casino isn't a hospital, or a school or a power plant: we don't actually need a casino to run a state (in fact, casinos make running states quite a bit more challenging, from setting up a huge beaurocracy to dealing with extra crime and traffic). Thankfully, this is starting to look like a game that the state of Massachusetts won't lose, but we'll find more about that tomorrow.

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