When New York voters head to polls in
November, they are likely to approve the
constitutional amendment to legalize the
expansion of non-Indian casino gaming, according
to the results of a Siena College poll
release Sept. 30.
Saratoga Springs is believed to be in the
running to be a location for one of those
casinos. The facilities proposed are Las
Vegas-style casinos, as opposed to a facility
dominated by electronic machines, which
is currently the case with Saratoga Casino
According to the poll, 55 percent of registered
voters would approve an amendment
that will appear on the ballot in November.
Eventually, up to seven casinos could be
designated by the Legislature. Saratoga
Springs is said to be a strong possibility to
land a casino in the first wave.
The ballot language voters will see states the casinos are intended “for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.”
Forty-two percent of voters said they would vote against a ballot measure with such language, according to the poll, while voters appeared split when asked about expanded gaming without being presented with the ballot language.
The poll states 51 percent of voters described the amendment language as fair. Some 43 percent said it was unfair and only includes arguments in support of gaming, ignoring arguments in opposition. 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, at around 6 percent each. That is closer than a poll from a month earlier, when 49 percent favored the amendment and 42 percent opposed.
“Clearly, the wording on the ballot for the casino amendment matters,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “When voters are asked a generic casino gambling amendment question they are evenly divided, with New York City voters opposed and downstate suburban voters and upstaters mildly supportive.
“However, when voters were provided the specific wording they will see on the ballot, a majority of voters from every region and from every party say ‘yes,’ they would approve the casino amendment,” he said.
“Is the way the amendment is described on the ballot fair? A small majority says it is. But it largely depends on whether voters support or oppose the amendment. More than two-thirds of amendment supporters say the wording is fair, while two-thirds of opponents say it is not,” Greenberg said. “A majority of Democrats, Republicans, downstaters, and men think the wording is fair. Independents, upstaters and women are closely divided.”
“While more voters support the amendment and think it’s fairly worded, there is more intensity on the opposition side,” Greenberg said.
He stated that only 7 percent of supporters say they will be very upset if the amendment fails, while 22 percent of opponents say they will be very upset if it passes. Overall, 40 percent of supporters will be at least somewhat upset if it fails but more than two thirds of opponents will be at least somewhat upset if it passes.
By a 74-24 percent margin, voters 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, according to the poll.
“Although a majority of voters agree with two arguments against casinos, they more strongly agree with two arguments in support of casinos – jobs and new revenues,”
Greenberg said. “Given the importance voters place on jobs and revenues, it’s no surprise that tying them to the amendment increases support and overcomes meaningful concerns about the sufficiency of existing gambling outlets and potential societal problems from casinos.”
The Siena poll included 807 registered state voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.