Maryland Slot-Machine Referendum Outlook

Posted on September 10, 2008

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Voters are having second thoughts about reintroducing slot machines in Maryland.

A new statewide poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies finds that support for slots has dropped five points this year, falling below the 50 percent line. Opposition to slots has increased five points.

The Gonzales survey of 833 likely voters showed 49 percent for slot machines and 43 percent against. That is a startling change since January, when 54 percent favored slots and 38 percent were against. The undecided vote was eight percent in both polls. With the margin closing, the undecided group is now large enough to decide the outcome.

Slot-machine opponents are making a strong case that the costs of slots in Maryland would far outweigh the benefits. As in other states that have voted on gambling, opposition is growing as voters consider the negative effects of highly addictive slot-machine gambling on individuals, communities, and families. More voters are deciding that slots are not worth the trouble or the cost.

The Gonzalez poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 29 through Sept. 5. Voters interviewed represent a cross-section of the population, and the sample was balanced to reflect Maryland demographics by gender, party, race, and region. The margin of error is no more than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, according to Gonzalez Research.

The strongest opposition to slots is in the Washington suburbs, the poll indicates, and the strongest support for slots is in Western Maryland.

Maryland On My Mind has a few political hunches about the slots referendum:

  • Support for slots will continue to fade as Election Day approaches, and opposition will strengthen as voters decide to err on the side of caution.
  • Opponents of slots are more likely to turn out and vote than are gambling proponents.
  • The undecided vote will break against slots.

Just my opinions.  — Bernie Hayden

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Posted in: Maryland, News, Politics