The BC Lottery Corp. has tried but failed to get new large casinos approved in both Surrey and Vancouver over the past two years.

The BC Lottery Corp. has tried but failed to get new large casinos approved in both Surrey and Vancouver over the past two years.

Poll finds backing for existing casinos, not new ones

Lower Mainland residents surveyed on gambling issues

A new poll suggests Lower Mainland residents generally support a casino in their community – if one already exists.

The new Insights West online poll found a 55 per cent majority of Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley residents whose community hosts a casino supports it, but the mood is marginally against gambling venues in cities that don’t yet have one.

In those areas, 45 per cent oppose a new casino, compared to 42 per cent who support a future addition.

The findings come in the wake of Surrey city council’s rejection in January of a new 600-slot South Surrey casino and entertainment complex, which would have replaced an existing community gaming centre in Newton.

“After the Surrey casino debacle, there has been a lot of public debate about the level of public support for or against the construction of new casinos,” Insights West president Steve Mossop said.

“Our poll shows that, generally speaking, the public is in favour of casinos – just not new ones.”

The poll found an overwhelming majority of regular casino patrons (84 per cent) support existing casinos and two-thirds back new ones in municipalities that don’t yet have them.

The top concern respondents listed was problem gambling, with 72 per cent agreeing casinos make it worse, while 48 per cent said they’re harmful to society and bring crime and gang activity.

Traffic and parking were also a concern of nearly half of those polled.

Casino opponents and supporters generally agreed casinos boost the local tax base, bring jobs and attract tourists.

The big divide between the two camps is whether casinos are bad for society – 88 per cent of opponents think so but only 10 per cent of supporters do.

“These findings suggest that the greatest barrier for support of casinos is not a simple NIMBY [not in my back yard] syndrome, but instead the broader concern about societal problems that a greater access to casino gambling can create,” Mossop said.

The poll surveyed 1,077 Lower Mainland adults at the beginning of February. For more details see insightswest.com.

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