Views on Gambling Turn Sour in NJ
As gaming revenues have continued to drop over the past year, several Atlantic City casinos have closed their doors. In response, a number of ideas have been put forward to jumpstart Atlantic City, but a new survey shows many New Jerseyans aren't impressed with those plans.
According to David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, a number of Garden State residents aren't thrilled with the prospect of allowing sports betting in Atlantic City.
"Forty-four percent of New Jerseyans think sports betting is a plus for Atlantic City, but 48 percent are less positive than that," he said. "Of that group, 17 percent actually think that sports betting will be bad for the city, and just under a third think it'll make no difference."
Redlawsk said the poll finds state residents are even more negative about online gambling being a good idea.
"Fifty-five percent think that online gambling is bad for the resort (town), compared to just 5 percent who think it's a good thing," he said, "while 23 percent say it's just not going to make any difference."
Those surveyed were also asked if it would be beneficial to make Atlantic City more like Las Vegas, and let people carry alcoholic beverages on the boardwalk or between casinos.
"New Jerseyans strongly disagree; 62 percent oppose such an idea, and just over a third think it's something worth doing," Redlawsk said.
He also said in 1999, only 35 percent thought it would be good to expand gambling outside Atlantic City.
"Now, we see 47 percent of Garden Staters agree with expanding casino gambling beyond Atlantic City, but 43 percent think they should just be limited to the island."
So what does all of this mean?
"New Jerseyans question the benefits of gambling," Redlawsk said. "In 1999, 72 percent thought gambling was good for the state, but today only 33 percent agree with that point. Thirteen percent now say it's been bad for New Jersey, and 46 percent say it's made no difference."
Redlawsk believes these results indicate there's a real ambivalence about gambling in New Jersey, especially when it comes to boosting Atlantic City.
"What we're seeing is, the kinds of things being talked about -- online gambling, sports betting -- probably aren't the solution, at least in the views of most New Jerseyans," he said.