Opposing Polls Have Opposite Findings on Casino Plan

ALBANY -

Two new polls shows New York voters alternately supporting and rejecting an amendment to the state constitution in a referendum next month that would expand casino gambling.

A Siena College poll released Monday finds 56 percent of the respondents say they would vote yes when read the measure, which would allow seven non-Indian-owned casinos in New York, including four in heavily Jewish Monticello. That, compared to 40 percent who would vote no.

Critics have claimed the wording of the ballot improperly crosses over into advocacy because it promises jobs, more school aid and lower taxes. The poll indeed finds generic support for a casino amendment at 49 percent, seven points lower than when people were read the ballot measure.

Meanwhile, Fred Dicker, state editor of the New York Post, reported in his column Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is becoming nervous after a secret poll he conducted shows that the measure may be defeated by voters. Cuomo is pushing the casinos as a way to boost the upstate economy.

Quoting his trademark “insiders,” Dicker said that while the poll showed a narrow majority supporting the amendment, the number had dropped from previous polls.

“The movement is definitely in the wrong direction, and the governor and his people know it,” said the source.

Even more worrisome from Cuomo’s point of view is the number of people who feel strongly either way: the number of those who strongly oppose the constitutional change feel far more strongly about their views then those who favor it — meaning the “anti” group is more likely to come out and vote on the measure.

Dicker claims that the reason support for casinos slipped is the revelations that Cuomo and the legislature changed the language used on the ballot to make it more attractive to voters.

“Cuomo’s attempt to wire up the vote appears to have backfired, with so many negative stories and editorials,” the source said.

Many editorial pages came out against the rosier wording, including The New York Times.

Dicker said Cuomo intends to go all-out in the coming days to ensure the measure is approved.

“If the amendment is defeated,” a source told Dicker, “Cuomo is defeated, and that’s not the way the governor intends to kick off his re-election campaign for next year.”