Local Advocacy Polling
April 3, 2013
Kingston Casino Case Study
Who is the client?
1000 Islands Accommodation Partners is a member organization representing hospitality and tourism businesses in the 1000 Islands region of Ontario.
What was the problem?
In 2012, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission announced that it was seeking proposals for new gaming facilities (casinos) in 29 regions across the province. As part of this process, the City of Kingston in Eastern Ontario showed interest in building a new casino in Kingston.
Gananoque, about a 30 minute drive east of Kingston, currently has a casino that generates significant income and employment for Gananoque and Leeds-Grenville. The concern was that a new casino in Kingston would take business away from the current casino or even threaten its short- and long-term future.
What was the solution?
The casino was a controversial issue in Kingston but no publicly-available public opinion research had been done to accurately understand the views of the population. The municipality had conducted a consultation but it was open to anyone and therefore was not a reliable indicator of support for the casino.
Abacus Data was retained by 1000 Islands Accommodation Partners to conduct a public opinion survey of Kingston residents to measure the population’s support for a casino.
Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, had indicated that a casino would only be approved if the municipality was in favour of one. The municipality’s elected council had indicated its support for the project but it was unclear if that position aligned with the views of the population it served.
Abacus Data designed and implemented a random telephone survey of 500 City of Kingston residents aged 18 and over.
The survey found that a majority of Kingston residents who had an opinion about the casino(60%) opposed a new casino in their community with almost 40% saying they strongly opposed a new casino. The survey also found that a larger majority supported a municipal referendum to decide whether Kingston should approve a new casino in its community (more information on the survey can be found here).
What was the outcome of the research?
Abacus Data supported 1000 Islands Accommodation Partners to draft a media release and send the results to media in Kingston and the surrounding communities.
The poll made the front page of the main newspaper in Kingston, the Kingston Whig Standard, and received wide attention. David Coletto, Abacus Data’s chief pollster and CEO, appeared on radio and television broadcasts about the poll and the casino.
The campaign, informed by the research, sparked further debate about the casino and led to a motion calling for a city-wide referendum at Kingston City Council.