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Internal Poll Has Rosy Outlook For Slots Supporters

Slots advocates in Maryland have been buoyed by a new internal poll showing 63 percent of likely voters supporting November's referendum, with 34 percent saying they would vote against it and only 3 percent undecided.

The results are summarized in a June 3 memorandum from pollster Frederick S. Yang to the ballot-issue committee, For Maryland For Our Future, which is leading the charge to legalize up to 15,000 slot machines in the state.

The findings by the GarinHartYang Research Group are more rosy for slots proponents than those from an independent poll released in January by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies. That poll found 54 percent of regular voters saying they would vote for slots, 38 percent saying they would vote against legalizing the machines and 8 percent undecided.

Laslo V. Boyd, a partner with Gonzales, said several factors could explain the different results, including polling methodology and an economy that has deteriorated since January. Slots supporters are pitching revenue from the machines as a means to balance the state budget.

Boyd said he "wouldn't rule out the possibility things have changed" but cautioned against reading too much into poll results this far from the November election. In several other states, support for gambling initiatives has deteriorated in the past as the vote approached.

Yang's memo says that the low number of undecideds suggests "an electorate that essentially has made up its mind of this high-profile issue."

According to his poll, support for slots is nearly identical in the Washington and Baltimore media markets, among white and black voters and among Democrats and Republicans.

The poll of 803 likely Maryland voters was conducted between May 19 and 21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, according to Yang's memo.

By John Wagner  |  July 2, 2008; 12:14 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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I wasn't polled. I'm against slots. I think it's a very bad idea for Maryland.

Check out the website

SLOT MACHINE GAMBLING: Bad News for Maryland

Slots are a bad gamble for Maryland.

They won't produce promised revenue.

They won't save the racing industry. But they will cost us millions through gambling addiction, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and embezzlement from businesses, and broken families.

The proposed Slots won't deliver the promised revenues.

While Annapolis politicians are making up outrageously rosy numbers, experts are calling the slots plan locations some of the worst in the country. Why are gambling lobbyists and industry insiders inflating the numbers? They will say anything to get their foot in Maryland's door. And when 15,000 slot machines fail, the next step will be more machines and more locations in more neighborhoods.

Slots will NOT keep gambling money in Maryland.

West Virginia's Charles Town is the highest grossing slots location in the country, and this plan offers NO INTERCEPTOR against that location. The largest winner will be Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach. He's cornered the only good location in the deal, and all of the profits go to him and his cronies in the DeFrancis family.

The proposed referendum will decide whether we amend the Maryland Constitution to include Slots.

Our State Constitution protects our Right to Free Speech (article 10) and our Right to Petition Grievances (article 13). To spoil our most important document would be an unprecedented and outrageous victory for gambling industry insiders and lobbyists.

Slots will bring deadly addiction to Maryland families.

These aren't the old-fashioned slot machines from the fifties. The new breed of slot machines are controlled by a central computer with programming designed with one objective: to take your money. Research shows that addiction levels jump sharply when gambling is nearby. The industry's own numbers show that one to two percent of gamblers will have an addiction problem. One in five will attempt suicide.

Slots will kill small businesses and derail the state economy.

Almost every dollar that goes into a slot machine would have been spent on another more productive activity. Gambling draws spending away from legitimate businesses like restaurants, shops, and other attractions. Employers are not interested in locating near gambling facilities. No matter how shiny and new, businesses perceive gambling as a sleazy industry that promotes addiction and embezzlement. Our strong Maryland economy can only be harmed by this kind of activity.

If passed the referendum would put Maryland's largest slots barn only SIX MILES from the headquarters of the National Security Agency, our nation's foremost intelligence agency.

To put 4,750 massively addicting slot machines so close to our nation's most sensitive intelligence site would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous. Addicted gamblers have sold our nation's secrets before. Do we need to learn this lesson over and over?

Slots isn't going to be like James Bond at the casino.

It's a hard-nosed business that targets the poor, the working class, and the elderly. The General Assembly used the recent Special Session to increase the massively regressive sales tax by 20%. And now they want to hurt vulnerable Marylanders once more with slots. Lottery tickets are mostly sold in poorer neighborhoods. Slots target the same people with a far more addictive product.

Slots won't save horse racing.

By installing slots, Maryland tracks would get a taxpayer handout to transform themselves into casinos, moving away from Maryland's racing heritage. Horse racing can't compete with more popular sports, and won't survive on subsidies from slot machine gambling. Slots will end up burying horse racing in our state, not saving it.

Posted by: Kensington Against Slots | July 2, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

God forbid people take personal responsibility for their actions, Kensington.

Posted by: Liz | July 2, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

That's the rub with this whole process - by the time slot parlors open all around the state and the expected revenue fails to be realized, all the politicians responsible will have been indicted for something else, retired or moved on to different offices.

There will be no one to hold accountable for this debacle - oh wait, yes there is: US

If we vote for this mess, then we deserve this mess.

Posted by: PG'er | July 2, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I to question the validity of this poll. Everyone I speak to about this topic is against slots in MD for the very reason I am against them. The problems seem to outweigh the potential benefits by leaps and bounds. DO these numbers seem unreal to anyone else?

Posted by: Donny | July 2, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

The Gazette revealed today that Leggett and Knapp plan to give us a huge property tax increase next year to go on top of the 14% increase they gave us this year. They say we are running a $240 million "deficit." They are in the hip pockets of the unions and have no interest whatsoever in controlling spending. They nare causing hundreds of foreclosures and pricing thousands out of the housing market.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | July 2, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

We can sit back and watch car after car, with Maryland tags on it, drive to Delaware, Pa., and West Virginia everyday and leave their money in those states.We will be the only state in the United States that doesn't have slots!We will be the only state that has such high taxes that people can't afford to live in Maryland anymore.Is the lottery gambling???Is keno gambling???How about the church bingo games???What about football pools?? If Frank Stronach makes money, he should.He's the one who put up billions of dollars to buy the racetracks.If he has chosen to make a deal where Joe DeFrancis gets a portion of his money,He can.That's a deal he made and it will only effect his portion.
Let me ask you if a person is addicted to food, do we get rid of all grocery stores???If a person is an alcoholic, does that mean Maryland can't have any bars????? Marylanders need to wake up !

Posted by: Heather Pickett | July 3, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to bet those poll numbers on gambling are wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Pickett: Nothing is stopping you from moving to a state with lower taxes and gambling addictions. There are many nice homes in Martinsburg and Morgantown.

It would be the perfect place for someone like yourself - so sensitive to the needs of alcoholics and the obese.

That way you can live in a state with low taxes (and no services.) Plus you won't have to drive so far, and park early enough before all the sleeping Marylanders fill the lot.

Posted by: PG'er | July 3, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Why was this called an "internal poll". I've never seen that term before?

Posted by: Donny | July 9, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

while it is true that legal gambling may increase crime rate and broken families conspicuously, illegal gambling probably has the same effect, just that we do not exactly know how profound the impact of illegal gambling on crime rate is. It's like prohibition all over again.

Posted by: Mister | July 15, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

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