Sonoran Alliance has learned that a poll conducted earlier this year (February, 2009) by Arizona Opinion (Margaret Kenski), also included questions about voter attitude toward using gaming as a source of revenue to solve Arizona’s budget crisis.
According to a source close to details on the polling data, public opinion toward gaming has improved markedly since a poll was taken a year ago by another reputable pollster, Public Opinion Strategies. Both pollsters surveyed 600 likely voters.
Sonoran Alliance was able to obtain a summary of the results for each of these polls. Kenski’s poll further drilled down into specific legislative districts where gaming was prevalent and active. Districts with horse and dog track gaming operations were more supportive and comfortable with the gaming proposal because of their familiarity with gaming.
Here are several of the questions asked in the May 2008 Poll:
“As you may know, Arizona is facing budget deficits. In general, which of the following options do you support most to eliminate the deficit…”
10% – Raise taxes
43% – Decrease spending …or…
37% – Find a new source of revenue for state government?
“As you may know, Arizona will have a budget deficit of two billion dollars or more next year. State economists are forecasting additional deficits in succeeding years too. Rather than raise taxes or cut existing programs, some people suggest that part of the solution would include allowing casinos at the six existing horse and greyhound tracks in Arizona. This is projected to raise between $500 million to one billion dollars in tax revenue annually for the state and help close the state’s budget deficit and allow for tax cuts or spending for key state programs in future years. In general, would you say you support or oppose allowing casinos at six existing horse and greyhound racing tracks in Arizona to address the budget deficit?”
The levels of support were 61% in favor, 36% opposed and 3% undecided.
Arizona Opinion’s poll included the following questions:
“In general, which of the following options do you support most to help eliminate the deficit?”
(1. Raise taxes, 2. Decrease spending; or 3. Find a new source of revenue for State government.)
15.3% – Raise taxes
33.3% – Decrease spending
30.3% – Find new source of revenue
19.7% – Mix, other
1.3% – Don’t know, refused
“There is another proposal that is intended to help fix the State budget deficit rather than raising taxes or cutting important programs. Allowing casino gaming at the six existing horse and greyhound racetracks in Arizona would raise between $300 million and $500 million in tax revenue each year for the State. This money could be dedicated to closing the State’s $3 billion budget deficit, cutting taxes or providing additional funding for state programs. In general, would you say that you support or oppose allowing casino gaming at Arizona’s six existing horse and greyhound racetracks to help Arizona taxpayers solve the State budget deficit?”
38.8% – Definitely support
24% – Probably support
8.7% – Probably oppose
24.3% – Definitely oppose
4.2% – Don’t know/undecided/refused
The levels of support were 62.8% in favor, 33% opposed and 4.2% undecided.
Both polls tested arguments for and against the proposals, using language most likely used by opponents and advocates.
After hearing all sides of the issue, the levels of support and opposition varied only slightly.
Of all the arguments tested pro and con, the one people most agreed with was the following:
“One of the Indian tribes plans to spend $550 million to build Arizona’s largest casino in Glendale right next to the University of Phoenix football stadium and 200 miles from its main reservation. If a tribe can build casinos away from their main reservation, it seems only fair to allow the horse and greyhound racetracks to have casino gaming at their six locations, making the playing field a bit more level and helping both the racing industry and state revenues.”
So as you can see the big question is will the Governor and Legislature place another option on the table? Rather than resort to a “temporary” sales tax increase, will the Governor advocate for sources of revenue in order to make up lost revenue?