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Poll: Most In NJ Oppose New Casinos Beyond Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A new poll finds most New Jerseyans don't want casino gambling in other parts of the state beyond Atlantic City.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll comes at a crucial time, as New Jersey lawmakers consider a slew of proposals to allow casinos in northern and central New Jersey.

The poll released Wednesday finds 56 percent opposed to casinos somewhere other than Atlantic City, and 37 percent in favor.

"We've asked this question since 2009; and with the exception of a jump in 2010, the needle has not moved in either direction," Krista Jenkins, a Fairleigh Dickinson University professor of political science and the poll's director, told WCBS 880's Levon Putney.

Poll: Most In NJ Oppose New Casinos Beyond Atlantic City

The idea of casinos in other parts of the state, particularly in the northern New Jersey Meadowlands, has been kicked around for more than 20 years. But with Atlantic City's gambling industry undergoing a rapid contraction -- four of its 12 casinos shut down last year -- political momentum has been building rapidly for letting voters decide as soon as this November whether to amend the state Constitution and allow casinos in other places. The proposals all would earmark part of the tax revenue generated by the new casinos to help Atlantic City, even though crucial details remain to be worked out.

"The public is questioning the logic behind allowing the spread of casino gambling,'' Jenkins said. "They don't seem to be sold on the idea of saving the gaming industry in the state by allowing it to spread.''

State Senate President Steve Sweeney has refused to say whether he will allow either of the two bills introduced thus far that would hold a statewide referendum this fall to advance in the Legislature.

Of potential new spots, the Meadowlands Racetrack was the favorite at 69 percent. Track owner Jeff Gural and Hard Rock International plan a nearly $1 billion casino in the East Rutherford sports complex where the NFL's New York Jets and Giants play. Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport was supported by 49 percent.

Jersey City, where footwear magnate Paul Fireman wants to build a casino costing as much as $4 billion or $5 billion, is supported by 41 percent, and Newark, where no specific proposal has yet been floated, is supported by 29 percent.

A third of residents -- 34 percent -- say they would be more likely to visit a casino in a place other than Atlantic City, assuming they remained in the state. Similar numbers -- 31 percent -- say that even if casinos were expanded to other parts of the state they would still visit Atlantic City to gamble.

Forty percent also said the availability of non-gambling attractions like restaurants, concerts and hotels is the most important factor in choosing a casino to visit.

Twenty percent said proximity to home matters more.

Respondents were almost evenly split on whether any new casinos should have to share part of their taxes with Atlantic City, with 44 percent opposed and 42 percent in favor.

"Combined with opposition to an expansion, these results underscore the difficulty legislators are going to have if they proceed with putting a referendum on the ballot in November,'' Jenkins said.

The telephone poll of 913 adults was done June 15-21, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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