In Prince George’s, likely voters divide 52 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed, an apparent lead, but not a significant advantage given the number of interviews in the county. Under a law adopted this year, the new casino is not supposed to move forward without the blessing of the host jurisdiction.
Read the full poll results.
Gambling companies on both sides of the issue have poured more than $50 million — an amount unprecedented in Maryland politics — into campaigns to win votes. And the poll suggests the advertising blitz has moved some voters to oppose the expansion.
Nearly two-thirds of likely voters have heard or seen “a lot” of ads on the issue, and more than half, 55 percent, say they are not confident the expansion plan will produce more money for schools — a doubt central to the opponents’ campaign.
At the same time, a slim majority of registered voters, 52 percent, say Maryland’s existing slots program has been a “good thing” for the state. About half as many, 27 percent, see the program as a “bad thing,” while the remaining 22 percent have no opinion or see the effect as mixed.
The 2008 referendum that launched Maryland’s slots program passed in a landslide, 59 percent to 41 percent.
Bill Miller, an aircraft mechanic from St. Mary’s County, is among those who are inclined to vote “no” this time, even though he said he has no objections to gambling in general.
“I’m not sure where all the money is going to go, how much the school system is going to get,” said Miller, 47.
As for all the ads? “I don’t know what to believe anymore,” Miller said. “They bombard you so much.”
MGM Resorts, which is angling to build a casino at National Harbor, the mini-city on the Potomac River, has emerged as the largest funder of the campaign to pass Question 7, contributing more than $21 million so far. The pro-expansion ads have touted the promise of new jobs and more money for education.
Under Maryland law, gambling proceeds are divided among the casino operator, the state and the host jurisdiction.
The sole funder of the opposition campaign is Penn National Gaming, which owns a casino in Charles Town, W.Va., that analysts say would take a hit if another large-scale venue opens in neighboring Maryland. Penn has given more than $25 million.
Reginald Calloway, a retired chef from Germantown, is among those that the proponents of Question 7 have in their corner.
Calloway said he likes to play slots and heads to Charles Town to do so a couple of times a year. If a casino opens in Prince George’s, Calloway, 63, said he would go there instead.