Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 29, 2012

No obvious pattern and ‘variety of variables’ when it comes to casinos and increased crime

ANNAPOLIS — When comparing crime and casinos, look out for anyone making bold claims. The truth is pretty complicated.

With so many factors to take into account — past crime rates, casino location, the influence of tourism, the effect on the economy and others, it is difficult to pin down any type of trend.

“What we found is there is no obvious pattern,” said Mark Nichols, gaming researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Nichols co-authored a study published in 2003 that compared crime in six new casino communities to six non-casino communities. The study came to the conclusion that “the effects of casinos on crime appear to be related to a variety of variables which are only poorly understood,” according to the authors.

“Crime did increase in some communities, crime did decrease in some communities. We never really saw any consistency,” Nichols said.

Nichols said to be skeptical of anyone making bold claims on either side. It’s just too close to call.

“It’s complicated. Because of increased enforcement, crimes may be moving out to other areas,” Nichols said. “It’s really a very difficult thing to make any firm conclusions about.”

For example, crime statistics for communities surrounding Delaware’s three casinos — Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway and Casino — show no pattern. The statistics were compiled by Delaware’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Comparing reported crimes in 2011 to 1995, before slots were introduced, some crimes have increased, some have decreased and some remain about the same.

Location is also a factor. Daniel Kelly, director of Delaware’s gaming enforcement division, said there could be a difference in crime in a rural community, compared to an urban area that’s easily accessible by major roadways.

The Delaware Park community shows 10 reports of fraud in 1995 and 56 reports in 2011. Delaware Park is located a few miles off of Interstate 95 in Wilmington, Del. The more rural Harrington Raceway community reported 108 instances of fraud in 1995, and 33 in 2011.

“Depending on where you’re located, you’re going to get a different type of crime,” Kelly said.

Tourism can also be a factor that increases crime.

Douglas Walker, associate professor of economics at the College of Charleston, has looked at multiple studies focused on the relationship between crime and casinos. Walker said studies that find a relationship between casinos and crime often don’t account for visitors.

“Even if you find that relationship, it doesn’t tell you it’s the casino specifically that’s causing it, it tells you there is tourism,” Walker said.

When a new casino is proposed, the fear that crime will increase in a community is always present. Nichols said the cause for the perception is twofold.

“Historically, casinos were operated by organized crime. That was not long ago,” Nichols said. “So I think there’s still some perception to that connection.”

Nichols also said media coverage could be a factor.

Additionally, people may still associate gambling with its past as an illegal activity.

“It was an activity that was illegal, and still is in a lot of states,” said Kelly, who first began working around casinos as a New Jersey state trooper in 1982. “I think that stigma stays with it.”

A study conducted by Earl Grinols, an economics professor at Baylor University, and David Mustard, an associate economics professor at the University of Georgia, looked at data from every county in the United States between 1977 and 1996. The study concluded that “casinos increased all crimes except murder, the crime with the least obvious connection to casinos.”


Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
News related video
Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners