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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 26, 2010

DO CASINOS CAUSE CRIME?

Lance Tapley , Crime Report - In the midst of an economic crisis, the U.S. gambling industry continues to grow-and so does the debate over its connection to crime. . .

The alleged link between casinos and crime, in fact, is bitterly debated across the country, particularly in financially stressed towns or states where lucrative gambling concessions provide needed revenue. A definitive resolution is unlikely any time soon, since attempts to scientifically prove (or disprove) the connection are usually trumped by moral, financial or political issues.

Meanwhile, the glitter of Las Vegas has spread to nearly every state. The United States has the dubious distinction of harboring the most casinos in the world - 705 - counting the 216 listed by the National Indian Gaming Association and the 489 represented by the American Gaming Association, the Washington lobby groups respectively for Indian and "commercial" casinos. France, the number-two country, has fewer than 200. . .

Congressional and presidential candidates alone received $28 million from gambling interests in the 2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. . .

In New Hampshire, Jim Rubens, chairman of the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling, doesn't feel more study is needed. "It's a fact" that casinos bring crime, he says flatly. . .

As proof of his allegation about crime, Rubens cites the comprehensive national study, "Casinos, Crime, and Community Costs," published in 2006 in The Review of Economics and Statistics, a prestigious academic journal produced by Harvard and MIT. Like the leaders of other grassroots anti-gambling groups around the country, Rubens considers it the ultimate scientific authority on the subject.

The study by economists Earl Grinols, now of Baylor University, and David Mustard, of the University of Georgia, examined crime rates in every county in the nation covering a period of 20 years - from 1977, just before the first casinos outside Nevada were built in Atlantic City, to 1996. It concluded that opening a casino led to local crime increases averaging eight percent. . .
Grinols and Mustard's findings made news, but not surprisingly they failed to persuade anyone on the other side of the issue. While anti-gambling forces used the findings to promote their case (United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, that state's chief anti-casino group, has numbers from the study flashing on its website's home page), the American Gaming Association was notably unworried. "In our minds the issue has been settled," says Holly Thomsen, the associaton's communications director.

How has it been settled? Despite the critics' allegations and the Grinols-Mustard study, Thomsen says that on this issue people have voted with their feet. "People are pretty happy" with casinos, she says. She adds in an email: "The fears people have about crime accompanying a casino coming into a community simply don't materialize once the casinos are actually there. In countless gaming jurisdictions across the country, law enforcement officers actually working in the community and around the casinos say crime hasn't gone up."


2 Comments:

Blogger Jim said...

To rebut the self-serving claim by a paid PR person for the predatory gambling industry, there is much more published evidence that casinos cause crime than the Grinols study (which remains unrefuted):
see www.NoSlots.com for more of this published evidence.

January 26, 2010 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband once worked for a woman who had gambling problems. She tried to keep him in an isolated section of their work duties so he would not discover that she and 2 friends had embezzled a couple million from the financial services company they worked for. Eventually it all came out, and she had done it all to pay off gambling debts, accrued at a local Indian casino. Yeah, I'd say casinos cause crime.

January 27, 2010 11:23 AM  

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