Gaming On the Budget

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?


  1. Frank Middleton says

    This suggestion, though supported by many, is totally unacceptable. The more government can get their grubby hands on the more they want. We start with six irresponsible casinos and soon there will be twenty.

    Lets look back to the days when the lottery was suppose to take care of budget deficients and the results of that little endeavor. The schools, which the lottery was to support, are still supported by the Arizona Taxpayer.

    The same will apply if casinos are legalized in Arizona. The money collected will be used to increase the size of government until such a time as all we legal citizens of Arizona wind up with one hell of a monkey on our backs.

    When the people who frequent these establishment lose everything they own who will be responsible to support them, who will buy them food. pay for their homes, pay for their cars and childrens health and education? IT WILL BE THE ARIZONA TAXPAYER!!!!.

    TOO many people want something for nothing and shirk their responsibilities while trying to achieve that undeserved wealth.

    It appears that Carnelian Saloon is recommending that Arizonas government should also shirk its responsibility to live within its means.

    Casinos are a nusiance to the citizens of any country or state. They lead to much pain a sufferring and the destruction of families.

    Much of the money needed to provide services to the population of Arizona is a result of providing services to people who are here illegally. I submit that if all services provides to invaders was denied, Arizona would not have a short fall!!!!! Therefore, the need to tax the producers for the benefit of the non producers would not be necessary.

    I strongly believe that all casinos in America should be closed. As it stands now too many people want something for nothing. The fewer “something for nothing establishments” around the more mature people might become.


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