Monmouth University’s Polling Institute added more fuel to the already raging debate about the future of New Jersey’s casino industry. The group just released the results of a poll in which voters were deadlocked on how they will cast ballots in a November referendum allowing up to two new casinos in North Jersey.
The poll: An even split on new casinos
The Institute detailed the results of its poll, in which it called New Jersey voters between May 23 and May 27 to ask them about the casino referendum. They collected data on a straight vote, as well as vote in relation to political party and region.
In terms of a straight-up vote untethered to political parties or regions, voters were in a dead heat: 48% of voters said they wouldn’t support the referendum and 48% said they would.
Patrick Murray, director of the Institute confirmed that the referendum is a toss-up right now.
“The fate of the casino expansion measure is anyone’s guess,” he said in the release. “The public does not express overwhelming confidence that adding North Jersey casinos will be an economic boon and there is widespread concern that this would hurt an already precarious Atlantic City.”
Splits by party, region on referendum
When polled by political party, Democrats were significantly more supportive than Republicans:
- 53% of Democrat voters supported the referendum
- 44% of Republican voters supported the referendum
In terms of regional support, North Jersey residents were most enthusiastic about the referendum. Here’s a breakdown of the results from North, Central and South Jersey:
- North Jersey: 52% for, 42% against
- Central Jersey: 45% for, 52% against
- South Jersey: 42% for and 54% against
Polling shows support for city-led recovery
The polling took place during a volatile period in New Jersey’s gambling landscape. Gov. Chris Christie just signed an aid package for Atlantic City that gives the jurisdiction five months to get its finances in order. If it doesn’t, the state may take over the city’s affairs.
While the final outcome for AC is not determined, voters are relatively split on what should happen, as well: 51% said the state shouldn’t intrude on the city’s finances, while 42% gave Trenton the green light to intervene.
Predictions on the advent of North Jersey casinos range from a boon to Atlantic City to the possibility that three to five casinos could close.
Positive support of gambling on the decline
The Monmouth report also polled people on whether gambling was good for the state. Fifty-four percent of people who responded said they believe it’s good for the state.
While that statistic may be encouraging, the study pointed out that, back in 1999, nearly three out of four New Jersey voters said gambling was beneficial for the state.
In addition to sentiment about the November referendum, researchers wanted to know how people felt about gambling’s effects on Atlantic City.
According to the report, “38% say A.C. is actually worse off today than it would have been if gambling had never been allowed compared to 31% who say that A.C. is better of than it would have been without casinos.”