Casino Poll Dancing (and Manny!)

1218137514It seems like a long time ago that state legislators, led by Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi, swatted Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to bring three resort casinos to Massachusetts. After all, it was all the way back in March, back when DiMasi was king of the world State House and Manny Ramirez was happily employed by the Red Sox (Remember? He said he found his chi).

Summertime’s brought a lull to the gaming issue, but thanks to a couple of developments this week, casino talk has started to rumble back to life. First, the administration released a massive report on the financial impact three resort casinos could have on the state today. This new report’s numbers are down a bit from previous administration estimates, but you more or less get the idea: Patrick thinks casinos will bring loads of moolah, and these fine fellows he hired to do the study agree with him.

Of greater interest is the 7NEWS/Suffolk University Poll released yesterday, which finds that 59 percent of Bay Staters support casino gambling coming to town, with 29 percent opposed.

The impact of that is fairly obvious, but consider another one of the poll’s findings that could be just as important to how all this casino business unfolds: 50 percent told pollsters that they would vote “Yes” on this November’s ballot referendum to ban greyhound racing, while just 37 percent said no. If that referendum passes, then it will put two key players in casino sweepstakes—Charlie Sarkis of Wonderland Racetrack and George Carney of Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Track—out of business.

Sarkis and Carney were never the favorites to land resort casino deals from the state, but they’re both loud and influential. As he leafed through the governor’s brand new 301-page report, state Representative Brian Wallace—who led the fight for casinos in the House—said on the phone today that taking those two out of the equation could swing votes to his side.

During last spring’s casino debate, he alleged, some of his colleagues who might ordinarily support casinos held out, in hopes of at least bringing slot machines to the financially struggling dog tracks.

“Those guys and girls would be with us ordinarily,” he said, meaning his fellow legislators. “But they thought they were going to get a chance with the slots [at the tracks] and they waited and waited.”

Wallace (optimistically) estimates that with the dog tracks out of the picture, an additional 15-20 votes could swing to his side. That, of course, is nothing to sniff at.

BONUS: The final question of the 7NEWS/Suffolk poll, in case you were curious, was “Did the Red Sox do the right thing by trading Manny Ramirez?” Seventy-two percent said yes, 15 percent replied no and 14 percent were undecided. Considering that Manny’s hitting .647 with three homers since joining the Dodgers, we think the good folks out in L.A. might agree that the Red Sox did the right thing.