A poll released Monday by a New York college found that the state’s plan to license three casinos in or around New York City enjoyed modest support from voters.
The Siena College Research Institute reported that 46 percent of registered voters it surveyed last week approved of the plan, compared to 35 percent who opposed it. Another 13 percent said they had mixed opinions about the downstate casinos, while 6 percent had no opinion.
The institute polled 806 registered voters last Monday through Thursday. The margin of error is 3.9 percent.
Not surprisingly, the strongest support for the casinos is in the New York City area. Half of those surveyed there support the state’s move, while 28 percent did not. In the suburbs, those polled back it by a 49-36 margin.
The New York Legislature and the Hochul Administration agreed to include the three downstate casino licenses in the budget lawmakers approved earlier this month. In doing so, they expedited the process for awarding the licenses by a year.
Proponents say the move will help the New York City area’s hospitality and construction industries rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state expects to issue a solicitation for the casino licenses in July, and could get $500 million or more for each license. When New York awards those licenses, there would be seven commercially licensed full-fledged casinos in the state.
Men, Dems Strongest Downstate Casino Supporters
The Siena poll found that more Democrats than Republicans or Independents supported the plan. In addition, more men backed the casinos than women.
A majority of Democrats, 52 percent to be exact, support the downstate casinos, with only 31 percent against them. For Republicans, it’s 41-35 in favor of supporting casinos, while independents are mixed at 39 percent supporting and 40 percent in opposition.
Looking at it through the political spectrum, those who identify as liberals support downstate casinos by a 49-32 margin, and moderates are similar, with their support at 50-31. Conservatives are slightly against the plan, at 39-41, but those right-wingers also have the highest level of mixed feelings, at 17 percent.
Men back casinos by a 54-33 margin, but women are mixed. They back the measure, but only by a 39-37 margin.
Support for the downstate casinos also skews more in favor of New York’s minority communities and younger residents. Black voters back the casinos by a 2-to-1 margin, 56-28, while Latinos endorse the plan with 52 percent support.
Among age groups, the 18-34 demographic is the only one with majority support. People in the age range favor the new casinos by a 54-25 margin. Adults ages 35-54 give it 47 percent support, with 33 percent opposed. Older New Yorkers are slightly opposed, at 40-42.
Buffalo Bills Stadium Deal Panned Universally
While New York’s downstate casino receives mostly supportive marks, voters won’t say the same for the plan to invest $600 million in a new $1.4 billion stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has said that more than $400 million of the state’s share would be paid using the funds the state received from the settlement with the Seneca Nation of Indians over a long-running legal dispute involving gaming compact payments.
Seneca leaders paid the funds last month, but they did so only as the state moved to freeze tribal accounts. It’s a move that enraged Seneca President Matthew Pagels and may make negotiations for a new compact contentious.
The Siena poll found just 24 percent approve of the state’s plan to cover 42 percent of the project’s costs. Pollster Steven Greenberg said New York voters are “uniting” in their disapproval.
It’s opposed by at least 55 percent of every demographic group,” Greenberg said. “Interestingly, upstaters are even less approving than downstaters of the stadium deal.”
Even Western New York, the home base for the NFL Bills, scoffed at the deal. Greenberg told Casino.org Monday. In the state’s 13 westernmost counties, 65 percent oppose the state’s contribution, compared to 31 percent that support it.
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