WTOP Beltway Poll: Md. supports gay marriage, divided on gambling

WASHINGTON – While most Maryland residents support gay marriage, they are sharply divided over casino expansion according to a new WTOP Beltway Poll.

The poll finds that six in 10 Maryland residents would vote for allowing gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license. About a third, 34 percent, would vote against the measure.

The Civil Marriage Protection Act (Question 6) is one of seven statewide ballot questions that voters will consider on Nov. 6.

The WTOP Beltway Poll, conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies,is a sample of Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties. It indicates voters are divided over whether to approve expanded gaming in Maryland.

Forty-eight percent of Maryland voters would vote for the expansion of commercial gaming, while 46 percent would vote against. Those against casino expansion show stronger intensity of opinion, with 35 percent being definitely against the idea, while 27 percent report being definitely for the expansion of gaming.

The Gaming Expansion Referendum (Question 7) would allow an additional casino in Prince George’s County, which would likely be built at National Harbor. It would also allow the addition of table games and extended casino hours.

Opponents and supporters have spent tens of millions of dollars on television ads, trying to influence voters.

The Washington Redskins recently urged fans to support expanded gambling, saying it could help create jobs and funding for education.

A group that supports expanded gambling, For Maryland Jobs and Schools Inc., has received more than $14 million from MGM Resorts International, which is a potential operator of a casino in Prince George’s County.

Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot opposes gambling expansion, and recently released a statement urging voters not to go along with the Redskins and the “broken promises” of the national gambling industry.

Noting he’s a Redskins fan, Franchot said in a statement he “respectfully encourages them to focus on the important tasks at hand, such as protecting RGIII, shoring up their kicking game and making sorely-needed improvements to one of the league’s lowest-ranked defenses.”

Among the other opponents of the measure is Penn National Gaming Inc., which is concerned about losing business. The company owns a casino in Perryville, Md., as well as Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.

The gambling expansion measure was approved by state lawmakers during a special session called by Gov. Martin O’ Malley.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.17 percent.

Editor’s Note: The D.C. metro phone survey was conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies among 550 adults age 18 and over, between Sept. 13 and Sept. 20, 2012. This included representative samples of 200 people in Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford) 250 in Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s) and 100 in D.C.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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