By Matt Youngfrau
NEW YORK STATE September 11, 2001 Within the past week, two separate polls one by the Sullivan County Democrat and one by the local daily have been released, indicating that area residents may favor gambling in Sullivan County or at least think a casino is likely to be built in the county.
Now a third poll showing similar results has been released.
The firm of Connelly and McLaughlin, the representatives of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, who are looking at opening a casino at Exit 107 on Route 17 in the Town of Thompson and have had preliminary discussions with Catskill Development over the possibility of a casino at Monticello Raceway, yesterday released a survey by Zogby International.
Zogby, which is headquarted in Utica and also conducted the local daily papers poll, called 1,200 registered voters in New York State, including people of various political persuasions in Syracuse, Nassau County, Albany, Binghamton, Suffolk County, Buffalo, Rockland County, Putnam County, Dutchess County, Ulster County, Sullivan County, and Westchester County. Those questioned were aged 18 and above and of various races and religions. The survey was also broken down by income and gender.
The majority of respondents (56 percent) favored building Indian casinos in New York State. That number rose to 68 percent when voters were given information on casinos like increased property values, police jurisdiction, and preliminary state approval. Those most in favor live in Suffolk County and Buffalo, and are aged 18-29. Those most opposed are from Nassau County, Westchester County, Syracuse, Binghamton, and are mostly senior citizens.
Other questions concerned gambling habits and if people had visited casinos (the majority have).
One of the questions specifically asked about support for a casino in the Catskills. Exactly 58 percent were in favor, 31 percent were opposed, and 11 percent were not sure. Of those numbers, 68 percent of the approval came from Rockland, Dutchess, and Sullivan counties. Those who live in large cities were most likely to oppose a Catskills casino.
All of the recent polls indicate there is support for Indian gaming in the Catskills. However, the opposition has been just as vocal, taking issue with the sampling techniques, the firms conducting them, even the respondents themselves.
In a recent letter to the editor, Lee Karr, a Forestburgh resident who has helped to lead the effort against locally situated casinos, said the first Zogby poll was flawed.
The heartening outcome of this poll is that only a modest majority of those, who after first having been led by being fed a list of positive statements about Indian casinos, then favored Indian casinos, he wrote. What [the daily paper] cannot do, even employing these dubious devices, is to convince what may well be a majority of Sullivan County residents, and what almost certainly is a majority of residents of the region and state, that casino gambling is in our best interests or that casinos would not conflict with our belatedly, and encouragingly, recovering economy or with our values and our emerging hopes for the region.