A majority of New Yorkers indicated that they would support the upcoming ballot measure that would allow for the development of seven casinos. The New York Times is reporting that the poll, conducted by Siena College, found that responders were influenced by the loaded political language crafted onto the measure.
Earlier in the month, we reported that the language present in the referendum was written in exceedingly glowing terms, promising job growth and lower taxes:
“The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?”
When presented with this question posed on the ballot, people polled responded favorably as 55 percent said they would support it. The Times described the importance of the wording in the analysis of the numbers:
The poll suggested that the wording of the question is significant. When voters were asked the question in a different way, without a list of casino development’s intended purposes, they were evenly divided.
The numbers also presented contrasting findings of people thinking that building casinos would both be a positive and a negative:
The poll found that voters agree with arguments both in favor of and against expanding casino gambling.
Seventy-four percent agreed that allowing the development of casinos would create thousands of jobs, and 65 percent agreed that more casinos would generate significant new revenue for the state and for local governments.
At the same time, 57 percent agreed that the state already has enough outlets for gambling and did not need more casinos. And 55 percent agreed that developing casinos would only increase societal problems, like crime and compulsive gambling.
As we argued in an editorial, studies reveal that casinos do not guarantee positive economic impact, and that any benefits may be counterbalanced by the destructive effects that gambling addiction has on families, communities and taxpayers. We also questioned why politicians were rushing to push this legislation through, crafting the language surrounding its potential approval as a no-brainer.
Still, it should be noted that 51 percent of the people polled in the survey found that the question itself, as worded, was fair.