For as long as casinos have existed, there have been casino opponents. No matter what part of the world we are talking about, this is something that holds true time and time again. One of the most commonly-used reasons for why a person, or group, might oppose a casino is due to the belief that casinos bring an increase in crime.
Though there have been very little studies done to prove this, it is something that millions and millions of people blindly accept as fact. Perhaps this is because Prohibition-era gangs were known for offering illegal gambling, but there is no way of saying this for certain. In Massachusetts, a state that has historically been quite conservative, the fear of a rise in crime is something that prevented casinos from calling the state home for a long time. Despite this, Massachusetts did recently legalize casino play and has since opened one casino. In the wake of that move, a study on how the state’s first casino impacted local crime was conducted and the results were surprising to a lot of people.
In a yearlong study that took place in and around Plainridge Park, Massachusetts, the end-result was that there was no causal relationship between the existence of a casino and a rise in crime. In fact, there was no evidence whatsoever linking the casino to violent, or even petty, crime.
What the report did find, however, is about in line with what you might expect any time a new attraction goes up. The study showed that while there was an increase in the number of calls to emergency dispatchers, most of these calls had everything to do with traffic-related incidents, namely accidents.
Separately, the report noted that while there was nothing there to indicate the casino’s existence created more violent crime and police activity, there were a greater number of reported cases of fraud. Typically, these cases involved a person either having their credit card or credit card information stolen in one way or another. As far as the casino making Plainridge Park a more dangerous place to live in or visit, the evidence was simply not there.
This report, though small, does well to show people that there truly are a lot of misconceptions out there as it relates to casinos and the “social-ills” they bring along with them. People might have their personal reasons for being opposed to casino gambling, but to say that it is a social evil 10 times out of 10 is simply incorrect. It would be interesting to see this report conducted in other parts of the US where casinos have just been established as we imagine the results might not be consistent across the board.
Massachusetts is one of many New England states that is contemplating adding an increasing number of casino resorts. It is also one of the many states where a lot of anti-casino sentiment exists. While there is no way to say this for certain, we hope that this study does well to shed light on the fact that casinos and crime are not always going to come hand in hand.