STATE — New Jersey voters favor expanding slot machines to the Meadowlands and other existing horse racetracks, according to a recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™. The study was underwritten by Trot-PAC.
Asked whether they support or favor expanding slots to the Meadowlands, voters favor the proposal by 52%-37%. Independent voters favor the expansion of slots by an almost 2-to-1 margin (58%-33%); Democrats favor it 5-to-4 (51%-38%); and Republicans split on the issue (46%-46%).
Voters differ in their opinions by age as well. Those 18 to 44 favor expansion by a 2-to-1 margin; those 45-64 favor it as well (51%-37%), but those of retirement age — 65 years of age and older — oppose the idea by a 5-to-4 margin (49%-38%). Voters in the central and northern counties favor the proposal, but voters in the southern counties lean against it (46%-40%).
“In part, this is a regional issue,” said Donald Hoover, a professor in FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and a former casino executive. “People in the northern part of the state are being enticed to cross state borders to places that are more readily accessible than Atlantic City. People in the south are concerned with the viability of Atlantic City.”
More voters think the slots would “provide tax revenues, create new jobs and preserve open space” (50%) than think slots would “expand gambling too much and hurt business and tax revenues in Atlantic City” (33%). Most (84%) have heard little or nothing about a recent proposal by a private company to pay New Jersey $600 million to bring slots to the Meadowlands racetrack.
Voters also say by 51% to 39% that they would favor permitting slots or “video lottery terminals” at other Garden State racetracks, such as Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway.
However, more voters oppose expanding full casino gambling, including table games, to the Meadowlands than favor it (49%-42%). Once again, voters differ in their opinions by age. Younger voters, 18-44, are more favorable to having full casino games at the Meadowlands (53%) compared to voters 45-64 (43%) and 65 plus (27%).
“This comes as no surprise, and is consistent with what we have seen in past surveys,” said Hoover. “People have been naturally apprehensive about the large scale of casinos and the development they imply.” An FDU poll in March 2009 found broad opposition (70%) to expanding casinos generally to “other areas of the state.” Yet an April 2009 study found voters were just as willing to allow sports betting at racetracks as they were at Atlantic City casinos.
The current poll also found most voters (94%) say the preservation of New Jersey farmland is “very important” or “somewhat important.” This finding is unchanged (94%) from a 2008 FDU poll. A 2007 economic impact study by Rutgers Equine Science Center, found that about one-fifth of the state’s agricultural acres are equine related.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 801 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from May 8, 2010, through May 18, 2010, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!