BOSTON - Although Massachusetts voters said they might not want a casino in their hometown, a recent poll showed that they generally support Gov. William F. Weld's plan to bring casinos to the state.
The poll, conducted by the Boston Globe and WBZ television, showed that 56% support the construction of a casino in the southeastern city of New Bedford. Thirty-six percent said they oppose the casino.
Fifty percent of all respondents said they would not like a casino built within 30 miles of their hometown. Many also felt that casino gambling is spreading across the country too rapidly.
The survey of 400 likely voters showed that 49% said casinos are popping up too quickly, while 43% said casino construction is proceeding at the right pace.
In New England, there is an operating casino in Ledyard, Conn., one planned in Massachusetts, and another planned in Rhode Island. There have also been preliminary discussions about casinos in Maine and Vermont.
The Foxwoods casino in Ledyard, operated by the Mashantucket-Pequot Indian tribe, generated profits of about $800 million during 1993. Connecticut received about $800 million of the profits to offset the state's tax rate.
Weld has stated that in the first year of operation, the first Massachusetts casino would provide the state wit more than $60 million.
Two-thirds of those polled said the state should use the profits from the Massachusetts casino to fund public services.
Weld has been a proponent of bringing casino gambling to the state since he took office in 1991. Last month, he signed a letter of agreement with the Wampanoag tribe that expressed his support for the casino in New Bedford.
Although the New Bedford casino is expected to face a fight in the legislature, most Massachusetts sources believe casino gambling in the state is very likely.
Weld also favors opening another casino in the western city of Springfield. The poll showed that only 47% of respondents support the second casino, which would not be operated by an Indian tribe.
The establishment of casino gambling in Massachusetts has become a hotly contested campaign issue. Weld's Democratic opponent in the November gubernatorial election, state Rep. Mark Roosevelt, is against gambling.
Roosevelt opposes casinos because he says they breed corruption and organized crime. On Monday, Roosevelt said that Weld's support of the casinos was motivated by two of the governor's supporters, Alexander Tennant and John Moffitt. Both men, who do fund-raising for Weld, serve as consultants for casino companies.