Early this month Assembly members representing Bergen, Essex, and Hudson announced the introduction of a bill seeking to expand gambling in New Jersey outside of Atlantic City (AC). If the bill passes the state legislature, the proposed law still has to receive approval from NJ’s electorate by way of referendum, being a condition for the law’s enactment. However, the results of the newest PublicMind Poll conducted by the Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) revealed that majority of NJ’s constituents, are opposed to gambling expansion beyond the state’s gambling Mecca.
Krista Jenkins, the FDU’s PublicMind Poll Director and a political science professor at the university, remarked that NJ’s public appears not to be convinced with the idea of expanding gambling as means to save the state’s failing gaming industry. She commented that poll respondents are questioning the reason behind the action of allowing the spread of casino gambling.
The results of the latest FDU conducted poll show that 56 percent of those surveyed are opposed to the opening of new gambling destinations outside of AC, while 37 percent agree to the idea. The poll outcome is largely consistent with the results of the February 2015 poll, in which 57 percent answered negatively to the same survey question, while 36 percent was in favor. Going back further, the PublicMind poll results in 2009 likewise indicated strong opposition toward gambling expansion in the Garden State.
According to Ms. Jenkins, the current poll also showed that 40 percent of those surveyed opine that non-gaming enticements are the key to attracting people in locations outside of, as well as in Atlantic City. They consider the availability of amenities such as hotels, concert venues, and restaurants as deciding factors if they are of a mind to gamble. Twenty percent answered that proximity of the gambling venue to their home is more important, while fourteen percent consider having a broad range of gambling options as the key attraction.
On the question of whether they are in favor or opposed to the proposed casino tax revenue sharing scheme to boost Atlantic City’s dwindling economic resources, the results albeit neck-to-neck, showed that 44 percent are against the proposal, while 42 percent are in favor. Moreover, Ms. Jenkins noted that men, as well as those with recent experiences of going to casinos are the ones most likely to support the gambling expansion move, and the proposal to share casino tax revenue with Atlantic City.
Basing on those results, the PublicMind Poll Director opines that state legislators will eventually encounter difficulties if they proceed with holding a referendum in order to seek ratification of the proposed gambling expansion bill. She added that the degree of attention directed to the idea of building more casinos in places other than in Atlantic City, has not piqued the interest of the NJ public. Only around four (4) out of ten (10) survey respondents have heard some or a lot about the holding of a referendum to seek approval of a law that allows gambling expansion.