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New poll shows support for destination casinos

Need evidence that the gaming debate is about to heat up?

On Thursday, the Tarrance Group released a poll showing that almost two-thirds of voters support legislation allowing a "limited number" destination casinos in Florida.

The group quickly fired back, linking the poll to the gambing giant Las Vegas Sands.

"So how did they get the results they wanted? Through carefully-crafted survey questions. After all, the casino bosses’ favorite trick is the sleight of hand. They’ve proven it once again with the wording of their poll," the group said in a press release of its own.

Here's the press release on the poll:

New Florida Poll Shows Voters Overwhelmingly Support Destination Resorts in State; Oppose Internet Gambling

TALLAHASSEE -- Almost two-thirds of Florida voters support the Florida Legislature establishing a limited number of "high-quality destination resort casinos" in the state to create new jobs and boost economic development, a new poll of Florida voters shows. The survey of 601 likely Florida voters, conducted by The Tarrance Group, also found that respondents have a decidedly negative view (67 percent) of Internet gambling in the state.

"The opinion of Florida voters is clear. When it comes to destination resorts, the answer is an overwhelming yes. But voters know what they like and what they don’t, and they overwhelmingly reject Internet gaming," said Dave Sackett, founding partner of The Tarrance Group. "It would be reasonable to conclude that Florida voters recognize the economic benefits of destination resorts, but also see the pitfalls posed by unregulated online gambling."

Key points from the survey include:

* More than three in five Florida voters -- 61 percent -- indicate they would favor the Legislature approving a limited number of new gaming operations in the state as a way to create new jobs and boost economic development. Just 35 percent of Florida voters would be opposed to this, with only 3 percent unsure.

* At 63 percent, support for the development of a limited number of destination resort casinos is more than 10 points higher than support for allowing full gaming at existing facilities in the state. This view is held by voters in every region of the state but the Miami DMA, where the two proposals are viewed evenly.

* Florida voters have a very negative view of Internet gambling and Internet poker, without any significant distinction between the two. Approximately 65 percent of voters have a negative view, with a clear majority expressing a "strongly negative" view.

The Tarrance Group, based in Washington, D.C., conducted this poll of 601 likely Florida voters from October 20-22, 2013. The poll has a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percent.