Urban casinos aren't a ‘hotbed' for crime

By Brad Allen
Urban casinos have a minimal effect on local crime-rate according to researchers from Drexel and Temple University.

The study focused on Philadelphia’s Sugarhouse Casino, which was opened in 2010 amid a chorus of complaints from community groups about a potential crime-rate spike.

Dr Lallen P. Johnson from Drexel University said: “The arrival of the gaming industry to the city of Philadelphia was met with much controversy and protest. Early discussions about the arrival of SugarHouse revolved around whether the added tax revenue would outweigh the social cost of the expected increased crime. Although reasonable concerns, our findings suggest that these negative expectations did not play out.”

Johnson and Dr Jerry Ratcliffe from Temple University analysed eight years of crime incident data in the Fishtown neighbourhood where the casino is located, and compared it with a control zone.

They found that vehicle crime, drug crime and residential burglaries all decreased in the casino area, albeit not significantly, and in-line with a general reduction in these crimes.

Violent street felonies did increase, although this was also by an insignificant amount.

The researchers suggested the stable crime-rate was thanks to greater footfall in the area from casino customers and a concerted effort to increase police presence.

“It is important to revitalise urban areas without inadvertently creating criminal opportunities,” Ratcliffe said. “With no increases in violence, burglary or drug crime, we hope that the community and the police are reassured by these findings.”

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