Voters are overwhelmingly opposed to North Jersey casinos, according to recent polling from Stockton University’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy and Trenton’s Bad Bet, a group fighting the ballot question.
The Stockton poll released Friday found that 68 percent of those surveyed oppose the plan to allow two casinos in northern New Jersey, while 27 percent support casino expansion beyond Atlantic City. That poll was conducted with 638 likely New Jersey voters by the Stockton Polling Institute from Sept. 22 to 29. The margin of error is 3.9 percent.
A survey by Trenton’s Bad Bet found the ballot measure losing by 20 points — 36 percent of 600 likely voters were in favor of expanding gaming, while 56 percent were opposed. That poll was conducted Sept. 20 to 21 and has a 4 percent margin of error.
In North Jersey, 63 percent of those surveyed oppose casino expansion, while 74 percent of voters in the state’s eight southern counties also oppose it, according to the Stockton poll.
“These results should provide some comfort to residents of the Atlantic City region, which has seen the loss of 5,400 casino industry jobs since the start of 2014,” said Sharon Schulman, executive director of the Hughes Center. “Clearly the voters — especially those in South Jersey — do not want to see Atlantic City casino competition within the state.”
The polling from Trenton’s Bad Bet showed opposition to North Jersey casinos is being driven by voters’ overwhelming belief that state officials repeatedly break promises to voters, and the North Jersey casinos would be no different. The survey reported that 69 percent of voters believed the “special interests get rich and we pay the price” if North Jersey casinos were to open.
Trenton’s Bad Bet said they will have spent $6 million through Oct. 3 on television ads focusing on not trusting state officials to do the right thing.
Voters will decide whether to approve as many as two casinos in North Jersey during the Nov. 8 election. The ballot question states the new casinos must be in separate counties and at least 72 miles from Atlantic City, where four casinos closed in 2014 and another, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, is set to close Oct. 10. Deutsche Bank said last year that North Jersey casinos could generate $500 million in gambling revenue.
Possible casino locations being discussed, if the referendum is approved, include Jersey City and the Meadowlands.
Further details about the exact location of the casinos wouldn’t change the opinion of the majority of those surveyed, according to the poll. More than half of those surveyed said knowing the specific locations would have no impact on their vote.