Nevada voters overwhelmingly favor an initiative to raise the state's gambling tax in order to fund education, according to a statewide poll published Monday.
The survey of 600 likely voters conducted for the Reno Gazette-Journal found 68 percent support the Nevada State Education Association's proposal to raise the tax from 6.75 percent to 9.75
"That's pretty consistent with our findings as well," said Lynn Warne, president of the 28,000-member NSEA. "The (Las Vegas Review-Journal) did a poll that came in with over three-fourths in favor."
The poll was conducted Nov. 16-19 by Maryland-based Research 2000, and has an error margin of 4 percent.
NSEA has until May 20 to submit nearly 60,000 signatures required to qualify the initiative for the 2008 ballot.
If approved, the ballot question would require a second vote in favor
in 2010 before it could take effect.
Seventy-two percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of independents favor the initiative, according to the poll.
In addition, 64 percent of men and 72 percent of women support it.
"This is really bad news for gaming," said Erik Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.
"They've been running their feel-good ads about `look how much we
contribute,' and nobody's buying it."
Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Bible earlier said it was unfair to single out casinos and the industry already funds nearly 33 percent of public education in Nevada.
Herzik said NSEA made a smart move by targeting "big gaming."
The NSEA petition would increase the tax on the gross gambling win of casinos with a total revenue of more than $1 million a month.
"They have focused on big gaming and they keep saying `big gaming,' `big casinos,' and right now that's a good political card to play," Herzik said. "Whether it's big oil or big pharmaceuticals or big gaming, big anything is a target."