Does the presence of casinos increase crime? An examination of casino and control communities

Abstract

This study is an analysis of crime in six new casino communities and compares the crime rates to those found in six noncasino control communities. The experimental and control communities were matched on 15 socioeconomic variables. The crime rates were calculated using resident population and population at-risk, which includes tourists in the crime rate calculations. Both Part I and Part II crimes were analyzed using data encompassing the pre- and postcasino presence. Crime was expected to rise in the casino communities, consistent with routine activity theory and the belief that casinos serve as hot spots for crime. The analysis yielded few consistent findings across the test and control communities. Crime rates increased significantly in some casino communities, some remained relatively stable, and others decreased. The authors conclude that crime does not inevitably increase with the introduction of a casino into a community, but that the effects of casinos on crime appear to be related to a variety of variables which are only poorly understood.

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