89% of Alabamians Support a Statewide Vote on Legalized Casino and Lottery Gambling
The Alabama Jobs Foundation, which supports Sen. Del Marsh’s plans to legalize a state lottery, released poll numbers this week which indicated Alabamians want a vote on expanded gambling. The numbers show 80% of Alabama’s citizens of voting age want a state lottery.
The Alabama Jobs Foundation is a nonprofit group led by Pat Dye, the former football coach at the University of Auburn. The group was formed after Del Marsh’s latest attempt to institute state lottery and bring gambling to the state’s racetracks failed.
TargetPoint Consulting Conducted Poll
The group hired TargetPoint Consulting of Alexandria, Virginia to conduct a study of Alabama voters. The results of the polling were stark. Chip Hill, executive Director of the Alabama Jobs Foundation, said the numbers indicate clear support for their initiative.
Mr. Hill said, “This poll gives us every reason to be optimistic as we go forth in our efforts to promote passage of a constitutional amendment that is being proposed by Sen. Del Marsh.”
Del Marsh is a Republican from Anniston and the leader of the Alabama Senate. Despite his position of authority, Marsh’s attempt to pass a bill was defeated in committee. At the time, the senator did not have firm poll numbers to support his contentions, though.
Below are the poll numbers from TargetPoint Consulting.
Alabama Jobs Foundation Poll Numbers
- 89% of Alabama’s people favor a gambling vote.
- 80% of the people polled supported a lottery to pay for education.
- 77% of those polled said they supported Del Marsh’s plan over an exclusive deal with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who currently hold a casino gaming monopoly in the state.
- 69% polled said they would like to see a constitutional amendment for casino gaming and lotteries, if it was required before gambling was legalized.
- 66% of those who answered said the opposed new taxes to the solve Alabama’s budget crisis.
Senator Marsh said the numbers are a “welcomed help” as he tries to convince members of the legislature to support his gambling. He also said the number were no shock to him.
Del Marsh Asked to Confirm Legitimacy
Sen. Marsh said, “I’m not surprised by the numbers.”
He added that he had a pollster take an informal survey of the people several months ago and the research dovetailed with the TargetPoint numbers quite closely.
When asked by a skeptical reporter whether the TargetPoint Consulting poll was accurate, Sen. Marsh said he had outside confirmation that it was legit. Marsh added, “My pollster said it’s legitimate. It’s got the right demographics. It shows what we are showing across the country. So I can vouch for your poll.”
Discussion of Research Data
Detractors are likely to argue the poll questions were biased. For instance, they might want to know how many would say they want a lottery, without the additional sweetener “to pay for education”. Most people are going to support activities if they pay for education. Of course, most states in the United States have lotteries-for-education, so this is not out of the question.
Obviously, most people are going to be against taxes in any form, especially in a conservative state. Still, the desire to have a vote on gambling should put pressure on lawmakers to approve a referendum, since that is an overwhelming 9-out-of-10 voters wanting such a vote.
Constitutional Amendment Question
The question about the desire for a constitutional amendment could be trouble for the initiative. The legislature would have to vote overwhelmingly in favor of gambling, if an amendment were needed. This might be the chief threat to expanded gambling in Alabama.
Poarch Band of Indians
The question about the Poarch Band of Indians shows massive support for casino gaming thrown open to private interests, instead of being solely the domain of tribal gaming authorities. Presumably, many of those polled will have visited Poarch casinos in the area and would like something more.
Readers might wonder why a poll is so important, but it can do two things. One, it gauges popular sentiment (what “The People” think), while helping to sculpt public opinion–that is, opinion writers and pundits. Two, polls are ammunition to be used by lobbyists and sponsors of legislation, such as Del Marsh. When he talks to a colleague and argues on behalf of their votes, he can use the poll numbers as a talking point.
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