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People want local approval of casinos

By Lombardo David
Thursday, February 21, 2013

A large majority of New Yorkers would oppose legalizing non-Indian casinos if it's not clear where they're going or if localities aren't given final approval, according to the summary of polling data released on Thursday.

Second approval from the state Legislature and a statewide referendum are needed in order to implement a constitutional amendment from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create seven non-Indian casinos. The governor has said state legislators and the public will be aware of potential regions for casinos, but not specific sites when they vote on the plan, which could be a stumbling block for the proposal.

New Yorkers for Local Approval of Casinos, a group supporting local input on whether a casino will be placed in a community, commissioned a poll that said 73 percent of people would vote "no" on a referendum that didn't disclose the location of a proposed casino or guarantee a local referendum on the question. Only 21 percent said they would support the constitutional amendment without this information or approval power.

The opposition is spread among voters across the state, among different political parties and ethnicity.

"Without local control, the amendment’s supporters are left with little path to victory," said Joel Benenson in the summary memo with the polling data.

The summary memo is available below.

In Saratoga County there is support for turning the Saratoga Casino & Raceway, which offers electronic gambling machines, into a casino with live-table games. Both the county and city governments have passed resolutions in support of this evolution.

The poll was paid for by the Oneida Nation, which operates Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona.

"There is a significant amount of space between the nation and NYLAC," said Michael Tobman, director of advocacy for NYLAC, who noted that the group is divided on the issue of expanding live-table gaming in the state

The poll was conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, which interviewed 500 registered voters between Feb. 12 and 14. The data has a 4 percentage point margin of error and a confidence level of 95 percent.

A full story on this poll is scheduled for the Friday issue of the Daily Gazette.

Follow @poozer87 on Twitter.

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