With less than a month until West Springfield residents head to vote on a casino coming to town, a new internal poll released by Hard Rock International shows West Springfield residents may be leaning in favor of a casino being built on the Big E grounds.
The recent poll was released Monday by the company's "West Side Yes!" program.
Results from a first poll done this past spring showed a slump in favoritism of a casino being built in the town.
But now as the Sept. 10 referendum approaches, residents could be changing their minds.
The poll showed support for a casino now leading by a margin of 50 to 41 percent, with 9 percent of likely voters remaining undecided.
Hard Rock officials said it was conducted from Aug. 14 through Aug. 16 by Fallon Research, a national public opinion research organization. It reached out to 300 likely registered West Springfield voters with a margin of error of about 5 percent.
The poll also provided insights into voter attitudes on the measure. Among the top voter considerations:
The new results have officials on both sides of the argument speaking out.
"This poll reflects the education of the residents as they learn more and more about the benefits such as the road improvements and the $18 million in taxes. They're coming to the realization about voting 'yes' coming Sept. 10," said Tim Maland, president of Hard Rock Hotel & CasinoNew England.
"The only poll that matters is the poll that happens Sept. 10 when the voters decide if they want one to come to town for a 75-year lease. So the problem is, Hard Rock is pitching all these short-term gains but we're going to deal with the long-term pain overtime," said Nathan Bech, president of No Casino West Springfield Incorporated.
Hard Rock International is going up against Mohegan Sun in Palmer and MGM in Springfield for the lone Western Mass casino license.
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