A study commissioned by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission shows that gambling and crime do not necessarily go hand in hand.
In the United States, gambling is somewhat of a taboo idea depending on where you are. In the states of Nevada and New Jersey, gambling is common place. Head to Georgia or Alabama and you will find gambling is basically non-existent. Depending on where you are located in the US you may or may not have access to the lottery, sports betting, poker, casino, bingo and even online gaming options.
For the states that do not offer such gaming options or are restricted on what they do offer, it is often believed that gambling and crime go hand in hand. Opponents are afraid that money laundering or other illegal activities will take place via the gaming options. However, according to a recent study, this does not appear to be the case.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission Study
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission had a study conducted by crime analyst Christopher Bruce who found that after twelve months of studying gaming, that it is not necessarily tied to crime. In a statement on the findings, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said the following:
However, the study found that there were no significant causal relationship with crime and gambling as a whole. For decades, those opposed to gambling have used crime as a way to thwart efforts of gaming legislation. Opponents would scream and shout that the crime rate in the community that offers gaming would increase creating an unsafe environment.
The report by Bruce was 50 pages long and titled the Public Safety Impact Report. To be able to find no relationship between crime and gambling, Bruce used public safety data that was available in specific areas including Wrentham, Mansfield, Plainville, North Attleboro and Attleboro along with the Massachusetts State Police.
The study took place twelve months from the time when the Plainridge Park Casino opened up which is the only facility that offers slot gaming in the state. Additional gaming venues are set to open in the coming years with the MGM Springfield in 2018 and the Wynn Boston Harbor in 2019. Both of these resorts have seen opposition from those who do not want to see gaming in their areas.
The commission stated that since Plainridge Park Casino opened in June of last year, the crime and calls for service have been in the amounts estimated for the size and trafficked facility. The surrounding community has shown small impact on crimes and call for service due to the gaming venue.
Christopher Bruce stated of his findings that during the first year of operation, the casino analysis indicated that most changes in public safety data were proportionate with non-gambling facilities of the same size. Bruce stated that he hopes the public safety analysis will continue to provide important data that police departments can use.
The study should prove helpful to other areas that may wish to offer gaming options. Other states may produce their own similar studies based on the method by Bruce to see how areas are impacted by new gaming venues. It is important to point out that crime can take place at any time in any location, no matter the activity. Casinos have proven to be safe areas just as other attractions such as amusement parks or concert venues of the same size.