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Mayor Rob Ford and the Toronto casino he supports both fared well in polls released this week.

One poll, by Ipsos Reid, showed a slim majority of respondents in favour of allowing a casino in the city. Previous polls had suggested significant opposition to the provincial proposal, which Ford has endorsed.

Another poll, by Forum Research, showed an improvement in Ford’s approval and disapproval ratings, which had been dismal since the fall. While the ratings remained weak — 47 per cent approved, 53 per cent disapproved — they were significantly better than the 39-61 approval-disapproval split Forum showed in February, and the best for Ford since last June.

The Forum poll was conducted Wednesday. Forum surveyed 812 adults; the poll has a margin of error of 3.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The Ipsos Reid poll was conducted between March 16 and 21 on behalf of the Canadian Gaming Association, which advocates for the gambling industry. Ipsos Reid surveyed 810 adults; the poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Ipsos Reid poll showed 53.5 per cent support for a casino and 46.5 per cent opposition. Perhaps even more encouraging for casino proponents, 37 per cent of poll respondents said they would be more supportive of a casino if it were part of a larger entertainment complex. MGM Resorts International, the Nevada-based company, has already proposed a massive casino-resort facility in which, it suggests, the casino itself would represent less than 10 per cent of the floor space.

The debate, however, may be settled by a referendum more than two years away, and true public opinion remains unclear. A Forum poll on casinos in March, conducted days before the Ipsos Reid poll, showed markedly different results: 52 per cent disapproval to 37 per cent approval. A Forum poll in February showed 50 per cent disapproval to 35 per cent approval.

“I still think it’s early on, because they haven’t seen a proposal . . . It’ll come down to the reasonableness and the conditions surrounding whatever proposal comes forward,” said Ipsos Reid senior vice-president John Wright.

The latest Forum poll suggested a split on the question of whether Ford should attend the Pride parade — as he said Wednesday he would not. Forty-four per cent said he should attend; 25 per cent said he shouldn’t, and 29 per cent said the decision should be left up to Ford.

The Forum poll did not address Ford’s next Pride dilemma: whether to attend even one event during the 10-day gay festival. He said Wednesday that he has not made a decision.

The Forum poll, like numerous previous polls, showed strong support — 61 per cent — for eliminating the land transfer tax, a key Ford campaign promise. But the tax brings in about $300 million per year, and a majority of councillors are opposed even to reducing it.

Ford has not yet attempted to bring the issue to council. He pledged in December to reduce the tax by the end of 2012.

http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2012/04/20/polls_narrow_majority_favours_casino_rob_fords_approval_up_but_still_weak.html

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