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NY Voters Polled On Casino Gambling

With the public referendum on casino gaming just weeks away, new polls indicating New York voters are keen on building more state-run casinos are being questioned by anti-gambling groups.

It is anticipated that Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed amendment that would give the go-ahead for new casinos to open in areas outside those where Native American gaming facilities operate in New York,  could spur $1 billion dollars in economic development. David Blankenhorn with national conservative think tank the Institute for American Values says that particular number comes from a lobby group, the New York Gaming Association, not independent  studies, and he predicts that the opposite will occur.

In a survey underwritten by a group trying to bring a casino to the former Nevele hotel resort in Ulster County,  pollsters asked if the casino would be built in a resort destination outside of any city, 69 per cent replied in favor.

Blankenhorn also disputes claims that the casinos will be resort destinations.

When asked whether they “support or oppose passing an amendment to the state constitution
to allow non-Indian, Las Vegas style casinos to be built in New York,” voters are evenly divided, 46-46 percent, according to a new Siena College Poll of New York voters.

However, pollster Steve Greenberg says that when given the specific wording of the amendment on the ballot in November and asked whether they would vote yes or no to approve an amendment to “allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated,” 55 percent said yes they would approve it, compared to 42 percent who say no they would not.

A majority of voters, 51 percent, says the language on the ballot for the proposed amendment is fair – “it
describes the amendment, highlighting the benefits for New Yorkers” – while 43 percent say it is unfair – “it only includes arguments in support, ignoring arguments in opposition.”

53.8 of about 800 residents in the mid-Hudson valley polled BY Nevele said they support Cuomo's amendment to open new casinos.  Officials with Nevele Investors argue a casino at the old hotel in Ellenville would create many jobs and spark the local economy.

By a 74-24 percent margin, voters polled by Siena agree that legalizing casinos will create thousands of jobs. They agree casinos will generate new revenues for the state and localities, 65-31 percent. They agree, 57-42 percent, New York has enough gambling outlets already. And they agree casinos will increase societal problems, 55-44 percent.

David Blankenhorn believes they will attract low-wage workers, retirees and minorities - people who are already struggling to stay afloat economically.

Governor Cuomo, who championed the casino bills in the legislature, says the argument about the merits of gambling and whether more should be allowed in New York is really over.  

Blankenhorm is hoping there will be more discussion among voters leading up to the November 5th referendum.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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