The effect of casino gambling on crime in new casino jurisdictions

Abstract

Crime was analyzed in seven new casino jurisdictions (Sioux City, IA; Biloxi, MS; Alton and Peoria, IL; St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Alton, IL) to determine if crime rates increased after casino gambling was legalized. To be included in the study, local law enforcement agencies had to make available data for Part I and Part II crimes dating back at least four years before casinos opened in the community. Crime-specific rates were calculated using both community population and population at risk, which adjusts the community population to include the annualized tourist population. Results indicate a lack of consistency in the general crime trends and in the crime specific analyses. Using the crime rates based upon the population at risk, three communities had many more crimes that significantly increased than decreased, three other communities had many more crimes that significantly decreased than increased, and one community had few significant changes in either direction. When the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test for Paired Differences was calculated for crimes in all seven jurisdictions, few significant differences were found comparing pre- and post-casino crime. Although the conclusions are necessarily tentative, it appears that the effect of casino gambling on jurisdictions is variable and may be dependent on local conditions not easily generalizable from community to community.

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