NJ Voters Support Legal Sports Betting

STATE – A majority of Garden State residents support making sports betting legal at New Jersey racetracks and Atlantic City casinos; according to a newly-released poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind,™ 52 percent favor the idea while 31 percent oppose it.

There will be a referendum about sports betting will be on the November ballot, but 71 percent of voters say they have heard little or nothing about it. And two-thirds (67 percent) say they have little interest in the issue.

“Voter turnout will be relatively low in November, and the percentage of people voting on the referendum will be even lower,” said Peter Woolley, a political scientist and director of the poll. “But even those who have little or no interest in the issue, favor sports betting by a 10 point margin,” he added.

“New Jerseyans are used to having gambling in their state, and used to having it in Atlantic City,” said Woolley. “I think they see this as revenue for the state.”

While New Jersey voters seem to be in favor of gaining revenue for the state from legalized sports betting, they don’t support using taxpayer dollars to bail out private developers, the poll finds.

Just 31 percent say the state should help out the new owners of the “American Dream” project (the new name of the formerly stalled Xanadu commercial development project at the Meadowands) with tax breaks. Fifty-eight percent say the state should not be using public money to bail out the private developers. Democrats as well as Republicans and liberals as well as conservatives oppose it.

“The public’s reaction to tax breaks for a private developer in the Meadowlands is completely consistent with its opposition to tax breaks for private developers elsewhere in the state,” said Woolley.

In March 2010, an FDU poll showed voters opposed giving tax credits to the owners of the unfinished Revel Casino in Atlantic City by a margin of 60 percent – 27 percent.

“People see sports betting as revenue in,” said Woolley. “People see tax credits as revenue out. New Jersey taxpayers are not much in the mood for revenue out, especially if it is to support big business.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 800 registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 19 through Sept. 25, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points

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