(The Center Square) – A majority of New Jersey residents polled say they do not want to see casino gaming expanded into other parts of the Garden State.
Survey results released Thursday by the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll found 51% of the 801 residents polled oppose new casinos in the state, while only 37% support expansion.
Those numbers are nearly identical to the results from a similar FDU Poll six years ago.
New Jersey is home to nine brick-and-mortar casinos. All are located in Atlantic City, where gaming has been allowed for nearly 45 years.
“Views of casino expansion in New Jersey have been crystallized for years,” said Dan Cassino, an FDU politics and government professor and executive director of the poll. “None of the arguments that have been made in favor of expansion have made any dent.”
The opposition stretches across political affiliation as a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents agree they do not want to see new casinos open in the state.
Across various age groups, only one group – 31-44 year-olds – support casino expansion, 47% to 39%. However, that’s offset by New Jersey seniors, who oppose it by a 65% to a 25% margin.
The topic arises again as New York will soon begin a process to award up to three new casino licenses in the state. It’s widely expected the licenses will be awarded to sites in New York City or the surrounding area.
The FDU poll also found fewer residents support a total smoking ban at the Atlantic City casinos. Just 29% want casinos to be completely smoke-free, while 56% said smoking should be limited. Another 12% said patrons should be able to light up anywhere.
Lawmakers in Trenton are considering a bill to expand the state’s smoke-free law to casinos. Casino workers back the legislation, but operators fear an outright ban would threaten revenues and jobs.
Cassino described the smoking ban issue as a “balancing act” for legislators. “Smoking bans protect workers from secondhand smoke, but no one wants to risk hurting the casino’s bottom lines and having to bail out Atlantic City. Again,” he said.
The FDU poll surveyed registered voters between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1. Respondents were chosen randomly and contacted by direct dial or a text-to-web survey. The survey has a 3.5% point margin of error.