Granite State Gambling Poll Offers Good News for Both Sides

December 3 as appeared in


Editor’s Note:  Having waded through the 77-page gambling study report prepared by Andrew Smith at the UNH survey center, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt hits some of the highlights here.  The full report is available on the New Hampshire Gambling Study Commission’s web site ,   The Concord Monitor reported that the study panel ,   appointed by Governor John Lynch last summer ,   needs more time before coming up with any firm recommendations.  A final report is not  expected to be delivered to the governor  until next   May, not in time to come into play for any bill which may be filed by Senator Lou D’Allesandro or any others for the coming session.  The UNH survey provides some good news and some bad news for each side of the great gambling debate.


By Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, Hills 15


The answer is:   A  young not overly educated, single Catholic man from the Laconia area.

The question would be:   A ccording to inside information from the UNH Granite State Poll on gambling, who would be most likely to support increased legalized gambling in New Hampshire?

      Least likely to support it would be a wealthy college graduate Protestant married woman from the Keene area.Perhaps most interestingly of all (but not surprisingly in my opinion) is the breakdown by parties.  Let’s use the baseline numbers of 49 percent in support of expanded gambling (including 25 percent who strongly support) and 36 percent who oppose it (including 26 percent who strongly oppose it).Going inside the poll, we find exactly the same number of Republicans and Democrats (48 percent) who support expanded gambling while 52 percent of Independent voters support it.  37 percent of Democrats oppose expansion, 39 percent of Republicans (and 33 percent of Independents).That actually makes sense.  For every Democrat like Senator Lou D’Allesandro and Rep Jim Craig, also of Manchester, who strongly support expansion, you’ll find Dems in opposition like Senator Martha Fuller Clark, Speaker Terri Norelli, House Finance Chair Marjorie Smith, and Ways and Means Chair Susan Almy.

      For every Republican like former Speaker Gene Chandler and House leader David Hess, who strongly oppose gambling, you’ll find Republicans in support, mostly from areas which either currently have tracks or hope to get in on the gambling action, people like Senators Michael Downing from Salem and John Gallus from Berlin and Rep Ed Gionet from Lincoln.    Party affiliation matters little when it comes to gambling.   Political philosophy matters somewhat with moderate more likely to support expanded gambling.  Conservatives oppose expansion 44-45; liberals favor it but only by a 49-40 margin.  Self-described moderates, on the other hand, favor expansion by a two to one margin, 56 to 28 percent.

      Catholics support expansion by a two to one margin, 58-27, while Protestants oppose it 39-47, and “others” favor it 52-43.  When I tell someone this, you can imagine that the immediate response had something to do with bingo halls long in play at Catholic Churches.

Geographic differences are perhaps even more astounding than religious ones.  The survey considered five areas of the state with the Central/Lakes Region being most in favor of expansion (63-30) and Western NH the most opposed (38-55).  There’s no category for Manchvegas, home of the biggest gambling backers, but it’s 53-31 in support for all of Hillsborough County.  The Seacoast is 44-38 in support and northern NH only 44-41 in support (and a full 31 percent strongly opposed, bad news for Gallus/Gionet).

      Years living in New Hampshire seems to matter somewhat,  with those having lived here 10 years or less pretty much split, 42-41, while those who’ve lived here 20 years or more favor expansion  52-36.  Go figure.    Perhaps the most interesting finding of the survey regards  " intensity of feeling. "   Only one in five supporters said they would be “upset’ if expansion  did not come about, but approximately half of opponents said they would be “upset” if expansion were to pass.    That’s fascinating,   and not good news for gambling proponents.

      The worst news of all seems to be for those who want to see horse or dog racing brought back to life. Only one percent of the 502 adults surveyed said they had gone to a horse or dog racing track to gamble within the past three months.  41 percent said they had participated in a lottery drawing; 33 percent had purchased a lottery scratch ticket; and 10 percent said they had visited a casino outside NH (Foxwoods for example); and only two percent had played charitable poker.

      Marital status mattered a little in the survey.  While only 47 percent of married people favor expansion, 63 percent of those never married support it as do 50 percent of those divorced or separated.

      Males favor expansion 57-33 while females are almost evenly split, 41-40 in favor (but with only 19 percent strongly supporting it and 29 percent strongly opposing it).    The younger you are, the more likely you are to support expanded gambling.   It’s 73-19 support for those aged 18 to 34; 51-28 for those aged 35 to 49; 49-42 for those aged 50 to 64; and those 65 and older support expansion but only by a 39-37 margin (and 34 percent strongly oppose it).

Income status is not all that big a factor except that the very wealthy ($100,000 or more a year) are the only ones opposed to expansion and then only by a 40-41 margin.

      The survey bears out prior findings that the less educated one is,  the more one is likely to support expanded gambling.  It’s 58-28 in favor for those with a high school (or less) education; 58-37 for those with some college education; and is split 40-40 among those with a college degree.  However, those with postgraduate work are actually slightly back in the pro-gambling category, 47-40.    The survey was paid for by the Gaming Study Commission which apparently means the citizens of NH (or those donating to the commission).