Mass. Voters Want a Say on Casinos, WBUR Poll Finds

Tom Larkin, 77, of Bedford (C) holds a sign reading, "Not Here Not There Not Anywhere" as he stands on the steps of Revere City Hall with fellow protesters who marched in opposition to a proposed casino in Revere, Massachusetts February 23, 2014. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Protesters marched in opposition to a proposed casino in Revere on Feb. 23, 2014.
The Boston Globe

As the casino licensing process is underway in Massachusetts, a new WBUR poll has found that residents want to be able to decide whether or not to allow gambling in the state.

The poll, which was conducted by MassINC Polling Group, asked respondents whether a measure to repeal the 2011 casino law and ban casinos should be allowed to be on the ballot in November, or if the original law should remain in place. The survey found that 52 percent of voters want to have a ballot question on casinos while 39 percent oppose having a ballot question. Nine percent of respondents answered “don’t know/refused.”

The poll asked 504 likely voters in the November general election a variety of questions on casinos, including whether or not they approve of having casinos in Massachusetts. Forty nine percent said they approve of having casinos in Massachusetts while 39 percent disapprove of having casinos in the state.

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According to WBUR, the poll shows a divide among the electorate when it comes to casinos.

The 10-point margin is wider than the three-point gap WBUR found in a March survey. But it still suggests an unsettled electorate.

The poll also asked the likely voters about their confidence in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to conduct a fair and ethical casino licensing process. Most respondents (52 percent) did not have a favorable view of the process. Twenty nine percent said they have “not too much” confidence and 23 percent said they have “none at all.” Meanwhile, 33 percent said they have “a fair amount of confidence” and 6 percent said they have “a great deal” of confidence in the process.

On March 8, the chairman of the gaming commission, Stephen Crosby, recused himself from licensing decisions for Eastern Massachusetts after growing concern over his interactions with casino applicants and possible conflicts of interest. The WBUR poll asked voters if they approved or disapproved of Crosby’s handling of his job as chairman. Most (51 percent) said they have never heard of him while 15 percent approved of his handling of the job and 16 percent disapproved.

The WBUR poll also asked the likely voters about their views on legalizing marijuana as well as their views on drug addiction.

Forty nine percent said marijuana should be legal while 42 percent said it should not be legal.

In regards to drug addiction, there is growing concern about the abuse of heroin and other opiates. In the poll, 52 percent called it “a major problem” while 31 percent called it “a crisis.” Additionally 37 percent said they know someone who has struggled with addiction to heroin or other opiates in the past year.

A selection of the poll results can be viewed here . A table of the poll results, including a breakdown by demographic, can be viewed here. The poll was conducted May 16-18 using telephone interviews. More questions from the governor’s race poll are expected to be released Thursday.