Betras: Casino support lessens

New poll was commissioned by TruthPAC, a coalition of gambling opponents.

By Harold Gwin

YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said a new statewide poll shows support is fading for Issue 3, a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling in Ohio.

Betras said Thursday that the poll, conducted by Democratic pollsters Polling and Strategic Design (Schroth, Eldon and Associates) of Sarasota Fla., shows 48 percent of respondents who are likely to vote in November say they would support the issue.

That’s down markedly from a late-September Ohio Newspaper Poll that showed 59 percent of Ohio’s voters support Issue 3, said Betras, a staunch Issue 3 opponent.

The Polling and Strategic Design poll, commissioned by TruthPAC, shows 44 percent of those questioned would vote against Issue 3 if voting were today. The newspaper poll showed 38 percent opposed.

TruthPAC bills itself as a bipartisan coalition of opponents to Issue 3 and says its campaign against the casino question is partially funded by the Ohio horse-racing industry, which it says would be destroyed by the casino plan.

Betras said TruthPAC initially commissioned a Republican polling outfit to look at the Ohio issue, but that he, as a Democratic Party official, refused to use those figures, even though they showed roughly the same results. TruthPAC then commissioned Polling and Strategic Design to do the survey that involved 800 telephone interviews Oct. 7-11 with Ohio residents who identified themselves as likely voters this fall. Polling and Strategic Design said its poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Betras declined to release copies of the poll questions, saying that was the property of the polling company, but he did reveal the key question all respondents were asked once pollsters determined they plan to vote in November.

The pollster read the actual ballot language for Issue 3 and then asked the respondent if he or she would vote yes or no if voting today.

The result was 48 percent yes, 44 percent no and 8 percent undecided, he said.

The poll showed that same split for voters in the Mahoning Valley, Betras said.

“The more people learn about this sweetheart deal the casinos have written for themselves, the less they like it,” Betras said. “They are promising thousands of jobs for Ohio and not one single job for the [Mahoning] Valley. They are promising hundreds of millions for the casino cities (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo) and pennies for us.”

The most insulting part of the constitutional amendment is that the Mahoning Valley would be forever banned from getting its own casino, Betras said, adding, “That makes Issue 3 a dead loser for our community.”

The poll shows that, statewide, 62 percent of Democrats favor Issue 3 while 30 percent oppose it, while Republican numbers show only 35 percent support it with 58 percent opposed. Among independents, 45 percent favor Issue 3 ND 48 percent oppose it.

SEE ALSO: TruthPAC complaints to get state hearing.

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