New Jersey residents voice opposition of casino gaming expansion

Atlantic City New Jersey

New Jersey locals have voiced objection to the expansion of casinos within the state beyond their current Atlantic City home, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey.

However, despite a dramatically changing landscape across the country, this latest FDU poll suggests that there has been very little movement in public opinion across the Garden State in over a decade.

“Competition from new casinos opening soon in New York city and the endless search for new sources of revenue mean that there’s a lot of pressure to open new casinos in Jersey,” said Dan Cassino, Professor of Government and Politics at FDU and  Executive Director of the survey. “But if the state wants those casinos, they’re going to have to change a lot of minds.”

In what is billed by FDU as a “rare bipartisan accord,” a slight majority of 51 per cent oppose an expansion of casino gambling, while 37 per cent voted in favour of expansion beyond Atlantic City.

Any expansion would require a vote on a constitutional amendment in the state, however, in 2016, such an amendment failed by 77 per cent to 23 per cent.

The FDU also noted that “opposition to casino expansion may be one of the few remaining bipartisan issues in the state,” with resistance from the Democrats, Republicans and independents being 50 per cent, 54 per cent and 53 per cent, respectively.

This latest undertaking of 801 respondents also fared in a similar fashion to past examinations, with 2016 showing a 50 per cent opposition versus 37 per cent support and 2014’s figures being 50 per cent and 42 per cent.

“Views of casino expansion in New Jersey have been crystallised for years,” said Cassino. “None of the arguments that have been made in favour of expansion have made any dent.”

Furthermore, the issue of smoking on gaming floors has also been a key topic of conversation regarding Atlantic City venues in recent times. Smoking was banned in most indoors areas in New Jersey in 2006, but exceptions were made for casinos, cigar bars and a few others.

With around a quarter of gaming areas permitting smoking, FDU noted: “the state legislature has been considering a bill to ban smoking in casinos altogether, but casinos have argued that it would reduce their business, which has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and lead to layoffs.”

The survey also quizzed residents on this, with 57 per cent supporting the current stance that permits smoking in designated areas. 29 per cent were said to support a complete ban, while 12 per cent suggested that it should be permitted in any area of a gaming establishment.

“This is a balancing act,” added Cassino. “Smoking bans protect workers from second-hand smoke, but no one wants to risk hurting the casino’s bottom lines and having to bail out Atlantic City. Again.”