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Does the Presence of Casinos Increase Crime? An Examination of Casino and Control Communities

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 49 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 253-284
Date Published
April 2003
32 pages

This study analyzed crime in six new casino communities and compared the crime rates to those in six noncasino control communities.


Control communities were selected based on their similarity to the casino communities on 15 demographic, economic, and social variables. All the casino communities chosen for the study initiated casino gambling in the 1990's and have had casino gambling for a minimum of 4 years. This time frame allowed comparisons to be made before and after the casinos were operating. All crime data were taken from monthly reports provided by the respective jurisdictions. Routine activity theory and the belief that casinos constitute "hot spots" for crime suggest that when casinos are introduced into a community crime will rise. The findings of the current study, however, suggest that the "hot spots" theory may not apply to these new casino venues where the casinos were built with the approval and support of the community. In contrast to other types of hot spots, the casinos are located in more open and respectable locations, and they are tightly regulated. Because the casinos are viewed as significant entertainment and tourist attractions whose success is important to the community's economic well-being, it is likely that greater protection of the community from increased criminal activities is provided by private casino security and public law enforcement agencies. Overall, casinos do not have any systematic effect on crime, with the possible exception of larceny, liquor violations, and prostitution; however, when analyzing crime rates adjusted for the population at risk, even these crimes are not statistically different between the casino and control communities. 6 tables and 32 references

Date Published: April 1, 2003