Poll: Casino support still strong in New Bedford

DARTMOUTH – New Bedford residents remain strongly in favor of a resort casino in their community, despite the existence of “some identifiable pockets of opposition or indecision,” based on a poll last week by the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis.

“Since the casino issue was first broached in Massachusetts in 1995, New Bedford residents have consistently and persistently indicated that they are willing to host a resort casino,” Clyde W. Barrow, the center’s director, said in a statement. “Despite 13 years of contentious debate on the issue, and unfavorable votes by the Mass. House of Representatives, a majority of the Whaling City’s residents still want to host a resort casino.”

When the question was put to city voters in 1995, 78 percent voted in favor of the proposal and 22 percent voted against. And on a similar ballot measure in 2001, 64 percent voted in favor of a New Bedford casino while 36 percent voted against.

In last week’s survey, 53 percent of residents asked whether they support a casino in the city said yes, 20 percent said no and 27 percent were undecided. Among respondents who said they are registered to vote in New Bedford, 55 percent favored a casino, 20 percent were opposed and 25 percent were undecided.

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A more specific question, asking whether respondents support a resort casino in the city’s Hicks-Logan neighborhood, also was supported by better than 2 to 1. Fifty-three present favored the proposal, 23 percent were opposed and 24 percent were undecided.

Support for a local casino was stronger among men (61 percent) than women (47 percent), and weaker among residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher (44 percent) than those with less education. “This result is not surprising,” Barrows noted, “given what we know about the types of employment opportunities provided by resort casinos.”

A local casino drew support from respondents at every income level. Support was weakest among those earning $50,000 to $75,000 per year, among whom 37 percent favored the idea, 34 percent were opposed and 29 percent were undecided.

And the idea was favored by New Bedford adults of all ages, and by a majority in every group but the 18- to 29-year-olds, among whom 35 percent supported the plan, 20 percent were opposed and 42 percent were undecided.

The results were similar to those in a recent statewide poll by the Center for Policy Analysis, in which 57 percent of respondents said the Legislature should approve more casinos while 30 percent opposed the idea. That poll found similar support – 58 percent to 31 percent – for siting a resort casino in New Bedford. (READ MORE)

The latest poll was sponsored – at a cost of $6,000 – by Northeast Resorts Group, which has plans for casino developments in New Bedford and the central Massachusetts community of Palmer. Northeast owns a 35-acre waterfront parcel in the Hicks-Logan section of New Bedford, which it plans to develop into a project it calls Revere Landing, and has teamed up with Peter Pan Bus Lines and Mohegan Sun in an agreement to develop a 152-acre site off the Mass Pike in Palmer, if the state approves casino gambling.

The poll of 474 city residents – conducted Wednesday through Friday – had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent at the 95-percent confidence interval.

“One of the most remarkable findings of the poll,” Barrow said, “is that despite the efforts of state and local anti-casino groups to mobilize opposition to expanded gambling, only 20 percent of New Bedford’s residents are firmly opposed to locating a casino in the city.”

That local support is vital to would-be casino developers in Massachusetts. The casino legislation submitted by Gov. Deval L. Patrick last fall, and rejected by the state House in March, would have allowed three resort casinos across the state including one in southeastern Massachusetts. But it would have allowed casinos to be licensed and sited only in communities where the idea had been approved by residents in a binding referendum. “It is likely that any future legislative proposals will contain a similar provision,” the UMass policy center said in its report.

For more information about the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis and its New England Gaming Research Project, including the latest data on gambling expenditures in southern New England, visit www.umassd.edu/cfpa/.


  1. I am more than a little surprised that a reputable University would lend their name to a bought and paid for study sponsored by a gambling enterprise without an iota of objectivity.

    It is the subject of much debate whether the economic benefit of gambling outweighs the many negative social impacts like increased gambling addictions, alcohol and drug abuses, family neglect, divorce and abuse, crime, bankruptcy, even suicides, etc.

    Then there is the economic drain on the community by siphoning money out of the pockets of those who usually cannot afford to lose it and would spend it elsewhere in the non-casino economy.

    . But mere gambling occurs in Nevada, New Jersey and a few other places. This is Indian casino gambling.
    How many respondents to this poll knew the difference when asked these questions? Did they know, for example, that Indian casinos and businesses can and do operate without having to comply wiith the hundreds of state and local laws enacted to protect the customers, the public, the workers in the casino and ancillary businesses and the lhealth, safety and quality of life of the community?

    Were these respondents told that these Indian casinos and businesses do not pay any of the taxes that fund state and local public services and pay for the construction, maintenance and repair of infrastructure even though they place great demmands upon all of them daily and this cost must then be made up by the non-Indian taxpaying community?

    Were the respondents told that any agreements made by state and local governments in which the tribe agrees to pay some money, ((always an inadequate amount) payable perhaps in lieu of taxes that they don’t pay, are virtually unverifiable because the tribes operate in secrecy and refuse to disclose any business information. Were they told that any lawsuit that might be necessary to enforce such an agreement is extremely difficult, first because the casino is already built when the tribe hedges on paying and they cannot be sued without an airtright waiver of their legal immunity from suit. Once built, open and operating they are virtually impossible to remove or shut down and lastly the taxpayers have to foot the bill for such suits and match tribal gambling warchests funded with the profits from the unregulated, untaxed gambling casinos and businesses!

    In fact, even though the tribe may be making millions in profits they still recieve millions in federal welfare and grant monies because those federal laws do not limit the income a tribe recieving them may make and the regualtion and supervision of those grants and federal payments is so lax that the tribe could be using those same funds to resist any lawsuit between the state or local agreementand the tribe and it’s outside non-Indian Gambling Investors to pay money due. The very contrat that was used at the outset as an enticement to allow them to locate their gambling casino in a community like New Bedford or Middleboro!

    Were these respondents informed that Indian tribes, their busineses, casinos and therir agents, employees and officers cannot be sued, no matter how outrageous their misdeeds, breaches of contract or torts, because of that same outdated court created legal immunity doctrine?

    Were they told that NO agency, federal or state, effectively polices the day to day operations of Indian casinos, or inspects their slot machines and gambling games for fairness and accuracy or compact compliance?

    The legal landscape is littered with innocent people or businesses who have been cheated, damaged an injured, stiffed on contracts and left in the cold because they had NO LEGAL RIGHTS against any Indian tribe or business? Or that the campaign limitation, disclosure and other anti-corruption and conflict of interest laws do not apply to Indian tribes including the federal McCain/Feingold Campaign Limitation and Reporting Act? That the experience in states like California is that not only was there no noticeable economic benefiit from the proliferation of Indian Gambling casinos there but that the vast cash profits from the losses of gamblers in them, most of whom cannot afford to lose that money, have made a handful of casino Indians THE biggest political contributors to the politicians in Sacramento and completely corrupted the state and local political systems and perverted the system of laws infended to protect everyone!

    That these California casinos have effectively prevented legislation to restore the rights of the people and the workers and to impliment policies to publically disclose the extent of crime, corruption and negative social impacts from reachig the public’s attention as it should. Even the once impartial media has been co-opted from reporting the truth by the extent these welthy casinos buy up advertising space and time in a media economy that is in dire economic straits!

    So the question arises here, that before any reputable University makes a public statement about what the people of any state’s population “favors” in a “poll” that they have taken, especially in the controversial realm of casino gambling, one would expect that the responses reported should be from those who have been adequately informed of all the relevant facts before they were expected to give any intelligent and reliable response.