Registered voters in the Garden State are divided on questions concerning the future of gaming and Atlantic City in the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll. When asked if the state should help Atlantic City developers with tax breaks in order to encourage job growth and increase tax revenue for the state, or whether the state should not use public money to support private enterprise in the area, 41 percent say tax credits are appropriate, while 49 percent believe public money should not be used.
“As Atlantic City continues to struggle with declining revenues, tax credits for developers on the backs of taxpayers may be seen as a government ‘bailout’ to some and as a ‘jobs creator’ to others,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Seventy-six percent of respondents say they have heard “very little” to “nothing” about the tax incentives, despite their role in helping to fund the development.
As for whether residents favor or oppose the expansion of gaming beyond Atlantic City, only 35 percent say they’re supportive, while a majority, 56 percent, express opposition to other areas becoming hot spots for casino gambling. When a similar question was asked in 2010, even when limited to the expansion of gaming to the Meadowlands, opposition remained the most common response. At that time, 49 percent said they would not like to see the Meadowlands become a site for casino gambling, with 42 percent in favor.
In 2009, the first time PublicMind measured attitudes toward the expansion of gaming beyond Atlantic City, 70 percent of respondents said they were opposed, a number that is notably higher than what has been observed in polls conducted recently and in 2010.
“The results could simply point to the ‘NIMBY’ (not in my back yard) perspective when considering expanded gambling options,” said Jenkins. “There is no shortage of convenient gambling options for Garden State residents due to added gaming options along New Jersey’s borders. The appetite to expand casino gambling options beyond Atlantic City for New Jerseyans is not there yet.”
Beneath the top line numbers lie insights about who is more sympathetic to the plight of Atlantic City. Among those who have been to a casino or slots parlor in the last 12 months, 48 percent believe the state should help Atlantic City with tax credits; a little more than a third (36%) of those without a recent gaming experience offered a similar response.
At the same time, it is also true that casino-goers are more supportive than non-casino-goers toward allowing gaming to extend beyond Atlantic City, 44 percent vs. 29 percent respectively.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University statewide poll of 901 registered voters was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from September 6 through September 12, and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.