By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY On whether New Yorkers support private casinos in the state, it may depend on how you ask.
A Siena College poll Monday found voters evenly split when asked if the state should allow for the development of non-Indian, Las Vegas style casinos.
But a proposition on the Nov. 5 ballot to legalize up to seven privately owned casinos in New York paints the question in a more rosy light.
So when voters polled by Siena were asked the exact question on the ballot- which touts the job growth, tax revenue and aid to schools that casinos could bring-support grew to 55 percent to 42 percent.
"Clearly, the wording on the ballot for the casino amendment matters," Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature agreed in June to seek a constitutional change to legalize casinos. The change requires voter approval.
If approved, the first four casinos would be located upstate: in the Southern Tier, Catskills and Albany area.
Critics have knocked the language on the ballot, saying it offers too positive a view of gambling.
The proposition states that voters would "allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated."
Siena said voters by a 51 percent to 43 percent margin said the language is fair, and a majority agreed that new casinos would lead to new jobs and tax revenue.
But a majority also agreed that the state already has enough gambling, and that new venues could lead to societal problems.