Mass. poll shows support for Mohegan casino plan

New poll results confirm eastern Massachusetts voters' strong preference for a Mohegan Sun casino in Revere, and show that more voters would vote to uphold the Bay State's casino law than would vote to repeal it.

The results, released Monday, show 48 percent of the region's voters favor Mohegan Sun's $1.3 billion proposal, while 21 percent prefer Wynn Resorts' competing plan to develop a $1.6 billion resort on the Mystic River in Everett. Nineteen percent of respondents indicated they oppose any casino and 12 percent are undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

The Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth conducted the poll, whose results approximate those of a survey commissioned two weeks earlier by Mohegan Sun. The earlier poll found 50 percent of the region's voters favor a Revere casino, while 22 percent prefer the Everett plan.

The UMass Dartmouth poll found that 46 percent of eastern Massachusetts voters would vote to uphold the casino law, while 41 percent would vote to repeal it. The remaining 13 percent are undecided.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is scheduled to consider Wednesday whether to award the Greater Boston casino license to either Mohegan Sun or Wynn this summer or wait until after November's statewide referendum on the 2011 law that authorized casinos.

In a statement accompanying release of the latest poll results, Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis, called for the commission to make decisions regarding the casino licenses for Greater Boston and the southeastern Massachusetts region before the referendum.

"For the casino law to be reaffirmed in November, the public must not only believe that the process of awarding licenses is honest and impartial, but it must also see that the state's gaming legislation is being fully implemented and that its anticipated economic and fiscal benefits will actually be realized in the near future," he said.

The gaming commission has awarded a casino license for western Massachusetts, where MGM Resorts plans an $800 casino in Springfield, and a slots parlor license for Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville. The commission has made little progress considering proposals in southeastern Massachusetts, where Foxwoods Resort Casino showed interest in a Fall River site.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's plans for an Indian casino in the southeastern Massachusetts city of Taunton hinge on federal approval.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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