Poll: Most New Jersey Residents Think Gambling Has Been Bad For State, AC

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that New Jersey voters don’t think casino gaming has been a positive for either the state or Atlantic City.

NJ, disillusioned with casinos?

Atlantic City was once a source of pride, revenue and tourism for New Jersey. But it’s clear some in the state have soured on the East Coast’s gaming capital.

The poll asked three questions of respondents, classified as voters in New Jersey:

  • Do you think casino gambling has been good for the state of New Jersey, or not?
  • Do you think casino gambling has been good for Atlantic City, or not?
  • Do you support or oppose expanding casino gambling into more areas of New Jersey?

A majority of respondents answered “no” to these questions by varying margins. Casinos have not been good for NJ according to 62 percent of those polled. They have not been good for AC according to 60 percent.

‘Casinos have not even helped Atlantic City’

The poll results were pretty clear, according to Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Forty years after New Jersey voters approved casino gambling limited to Atlantic City, they say more than 2-1 that it was not the magic bullet it was cracked up to be,” Carroll said. “And by wide margins, voters say casinos have not even helped Atlantic City.”

A press release on the poll noted there was almost “no party, gender, racial, age or regional group measured supports casino gambling in any of the questions on the subject.”

Full data here. The poll had a margin of error of 2.7 percent.

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No new casinos for NJ, either?

The final question piggybacked on a referendum that would have allowed up to two new casinos outside of AC, in North Jersey. That ballot measure failed by a wide margin. The poll results mirrored that result, as 79 percent said they opposed such an expansion of gambling to a new part of the state.

There has been chatter that interests behind North Jersey casinos would try for another referendum in two years. But poll data like this shows that the opinions of the voting public would need to be shifted in a major way.

There was no data on support or opposition to legal NJ online gambling, which has helped prop up the casino industry in the state.

Hindsight is 20-20 on AC casinos

Results like this poll, of course, have to be looked at through the lens of today.

Atlantic City has had myriad financial troubles and is in the midst of a state takeover. Five of the city’s casinos have closed in recent years. It’s pretty easy for a voter to come to the conclusion that casinos have been a bad deal, given recent events. The poll numbers should not be at all shocking in the current climate.

Increasing regional casino competition from Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland has also changed things in a major way and siphoned off revenue for AC casinos.

Whether casino gambling was actually a net positive or negative for the state and AC over the course of the past several decades is a more complicated question. But the Quinnipiac poll certainly captures what voters think of the gaming industry right now.

Image credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Dustin Gouker

Aside from his role as editor at LegalSportsReport.com, Dustin Gouker writes extensively about the legal online gaming and US online poker industries, having played poker recreationally for his entire adult life. He has also covered sports for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among others.