Poll suggests voters narrowly favor a Suffolk Downs casino

A new Boston Herald poll suggests city voters narrowly favor a Suffolk Downs casino, but that the $1 billion project has not won over a majority of voters.

The poll of 600 Boston voters, which mainly focused on the mayor’s race, showed that 49 percent favor a gambling resort at the East Boston horse track, while 43 percent oppose it. Those numbers track very closely to Boston’s general views on permitting casino gambling in Massachusetts. The poll’s margin of error was 4 percentage points.

In late March, a Globe poll showed a similar spread, with 44 percent in favor of a Suffolk Downs casino and 37 percent opposed.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The rule of thumb in casino votes is that opponents are more enthusiastic voters and more likely to show up and cast ballots.

It’s not clear yet if Suffolk Downs will have to win a citywide vote. Language in the state casino law permits large cities to limit casino votes to only the local voting ward or to expand the vote citywide. Mayor Thomas M. Menino wants to limit the vote to just East Boston, but Secretary of State William Galvin has said a ward-only vote likely would prompt lawsuits from voters in other neighborhoods.

Springfield, which had the option of a ward-only vote, held a citywide vote on an MGM proposal yesterday, which voters approved by a 16 point spread, 58 percent to 42.