International edition
September 18, 2020

According to a poll of 420 state residents, conducted April 23-29

57% of Massachusetts citizens now favor allowing casinos

(US).- Fifty-seven percent of Bay State residents think the Legislature should authorize two or more destination casinos in the state, while 30 percent disagree, according to poll results released yesterday by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Massachusetts residents know they and fellow Bay Staters spend more than us$ 1 billion every year at Connecticut casinos and Rhode Island slot parlors,” CFPA Director Clyde W. Barrow said in a statement this morning.

“The survey reflects a Massachusetts populace strongly supportive of destination casinos, who believe Massachusetts spending at out-of-state gaming venues should be recaptured, and who want casino revenues to be used to help fund overburdened city and town budgets and to provide individual property-tax relief,” he said.

“Support for destination casinos in the commonwealth continues to grow among those who have not visited a casino,” Barrow added, although such respondents still opposed the plan, by 44 percent to 40 percent. Support was strongest among those who had visited a casino in the past year - 84 percent of whom favored the plan - but was strong in most demographic groups, the center found.

“That likely reflects growing disillusionment among all residents toward state and local fiscal policies that address budget deficits by seeking Proposition 2-1/2 overrides; raising state and local fees; floating hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-financed bonds; and relying on one-time fixes,” Barrow said.

Clearly, he added, “Massachusetts residents believe their local legislators should address state and municipal fiscal burdens by first recapturing the tax revenues, jobs and tourism that Bay Staters are exporting to Connecticut's and Rhode Island's economies.”

In previous opinion polls, Barrow noted, the center had found support for casinos was stronger among urban residents than their suburban counterparts. This time, suburbanites favored the destination-casino plan by 59 percent to 29 percent, while urban residents split 54 percent to 32 percent.

The shift indicates that, “as state and municipal fiscal problems mount and the economy sputters, amidst the worst mortgage crisis in nearly 20 years, suburbanites now view destination resort casinos as a critical component of the state's fiscal and economic development strategies,” Barrow said.

A proposed destination casino in New Bedford was favored by 58 percent to 31 percent, while a proposal to site a casino in Palmer, a town in western Massachusetts, was favored by 61 percent to 25 percent. Those two communities, plus Suffolk Downs, in East Boston, have previously been suggested by the CFPA as appropriate locations for destination resort casinos, should the state choose to allow such facilities in Massachusetts.

When asked whether potential tax revenue from gaming should go toward boosting municipal aid, as the governor has proposed, or toward individual property-tax relief, 46 percent favored municipal aid while 38 percent favored property-tax relief.

The, when asked if the legislature should authorize slots at the state's racetracks, in case the state legislature was to authorize two or more resort casinos in Massachusetts, 56 percent favored allowing slots at the racetracks while 37 percent opposed the idea.

The poll of 420 Massachusetts residents, conducted April 23 to 29, has a 4.7 percent margin of error at the 95-percent confidence level. It was commissioned by Northeast Resorts Group, a real estate development firm that holds options on land in both Palmer and New Bedford.

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