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Gambling and Crime
Polls show that most Americans assume an association between gambling and increased criminal activity. The gambling industry offers hearty denials and various statistical manipulations attempting to counter this perception. Data from gambling communities across the country, however, indicates that gambling does indeed foster a significant increase in crime.
- An estimated 40 percent of white-collar crime is committed by gambling addicts. Research suggests that $1.3 billion per year in insurance fraud alone is related to gambling.
- In the first six years of casinos in Minnesota, the crime rate in counties with casinos increased more than twice as fast as in non-casino counties. According to an analysis by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the median crime rate in casino counties rose 39 percent during that period as compared to an 18 percent increase in non-casino counties.
- The total number of crimes within a 30-mile radius of Atlantic City increased by 107 percent in the nine years following the introduction of casinos to Atlantic City.
- According to a study by Earl Grinols, a city can expect its crime rate to increase by about 8 percent after four or five years of introducing casinos.
- The Mississippi Gulf Coast experienced a 43 percent increase in crime in the four years after casinos arrived. Harrison County, where most of the Gulf Coast casinos are located, witnessed a 58 percent increase in total crimes between 1993 and 1996.
- A U.S. News & World Report analysis found crime rates in casino communities to be 84 percent higher than the national average. Further, while crime rates nationally dropped by 2 percent in 1994, the 31 localities that introduced casinos in 1993 saw an increase in crime of 7.7 percent the following year.
- 57 percent of 400 surveyed Gamblers Anonymous members admitted to stealing in order to maintain their gambling habits. "Collectively, they stole $30 million, for an average of $135,000 per individual."
- The number of court cases filed in Tunica County, Mississippi, went from 689 in 1991, the year before casinos began operating there, to 11,100 in 1996.
- The annual number of calls to the Ledyard, Connecticut police department jumped from 4,000 to 16,700 within five years after the opening of the nearby Foxwoods Casino.
- University of Illinois professor, John Kindt, reported that 1.5 million people or 0.5 percent of the U.S. population became new criminals from 1994 to 1997 as a direct correlation to states' government-sponsored legalized gambling. The cost for this rise in crime ranged from $12 billion to $15 billion.
- University of Nevada-Las Vegas researchers concluded that the state of Wisconsin experiences an average of 5,300 additional major crimes a year due to the presence of casinos in that state. They also attributed an additional 17,100 arrests for less-serious crimes each year to the existence of casino gambling.
- Nevada ranked first in crime rates among the fifty states in both 1995 and 1996, based on an analysis of FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. Further, the violent crime rate in Nevada increased by close to 40 percent from 1991 to 1996, a period in which the national violent crime rate dropped by approximately 10 percent.
- The San Jose, California, police department reported significant increases in crime in the vicinity of a new cardroom in the year after its opening. Narcotics offenses increased by 200 percent, property crimes by 83 percent, petty thefts by 56 percent, auto thefts by 21 percent, and traffic accidents by 55 percent in a single year.
- The number of police calls in Black Hawk, Colorado, increased from 25 a year before casinos to between 15,000 and 20,000 annually after their introduction. In neighboring Central City, the number of arrests increased by 275 percent the year after casinos arrived. In Cripple Creek, Colorado, serious crime increased by 287 percent in the first three years after casinos.
- The annual number of felony cases filed in Lawrence County, South Dakota, has increased by approximately 69 percent since the introduction of casinos to Deadwood.
- Half of Louisiana District Attorneys surveyed in 1995 noted gambling as a factor in rising crime rates in their jurisdictions.
1 The American Insurance Institute.
2 Dennis J. McGrath and Chris Ison, "Gambling Spawns a New Breed of Criminal," [Minneapolis] Star Tribune, December 4, 1995, p. A6.
3 Andrew J. Buck, Simon Hakim, and Uriel Spiegel, "Casinos, Crime and Real Estate Values: Do They Relate?," Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, August 1991, p. 295.
4 Earl Grinols, "Measuring Industry Externalities: The Curious Case of Casinos and Crime," March 2001.
5 Robert Waterbury, "1996 Mississippi Coast Crime Statistics," Mississippi Coast Crime Commission, May 1997.
6 Joseph P. Shapiro, "America's Gambling Fever," U.S. News & World Report, January 15, 1996, pp. 58, 60.
7 National Gambling Impact Study Commission, page 7-13, citing testimony from the Institute for Problem Gambling, 1999.
8 Bartholomew Sullivan, "Once-Sleepy Tunica Awakens to Gambling-Inspired Crime," [Memphis] Commercial Appeal, October 20, 1997, p. A5.
9 Mayor Wesley J. Johnson, Sr., "Fiscal Impacts of Foxwoods Casino on the Town of Ledyard, Connecticut," April 1997.
10 Dr. John Kindt, "The Costs of Addicted Gamblers: Should the State Initiate Mega-Lawsuits Similar to the Tobacco Cases?" Managerial and Decision Economics, December 2001.
11 William N. Thompson, Ricardo Gazel, and Dan Rickman, "Casinos and Crime in Wisconsin: What's the Connection?" Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Report, November 1996.
12 Ed Koch, "Nevada: Most Dangerous?" Las Vegas Sun, July 16, 1997, p. 1A.
13 Louis A. Cobarruviaz, City of San Jose Memorandum from the Chief of Police to the Mayor and City Council, October 27, 1995.
14 J. Joseph Curran, Jr., "The House Never Loses and Maryland Cannot Win: Why Casino Gaming Is a Bad Idea," Report of Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., on the Impact of Casino Gaming on Crime, October 16, 1995, pp. 9, 12.
15 Information provided by the Eighth Circuit Court of South Dakota, November 12, 1997.
16 Greg Garland, "Crime Rising with Gambling: Bad Checks, Theft Show Biggest Gain," [Baton Rouge, La.] Advocate, July 30, 1995, p. 1A.