Editorial: Casino-crime link is well established
Recently the New Hampshire Troopers’ and Police associations broke with their colleagues in the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police and the attorney general’s office and threw their support behind Gov. Maggie Hassan’s proposal to open a casino on the Massachusetts border. Their testimony suggests that they consider the casino plan a jobs bill for law enforcement officers: Troopers’ Association President Seth Cooper said specifically that casino revenue would help finance 15 more trooper positions in the state budget.
The state probably does need more troopers. But opening a casino, which evidence suggests would soon provide plenty more for troopers and police officers to do, is not the way to fund the increase.
Cooper also made the remarkable claim that a casino would create no more crime than is caused when a new shopping mall draws a large number of people to an area. While studies can be found that suggest that a casino has a limited effect on an area’s crime rate, that was not the conclusion of the New Hampshire Gaming Study Commission, which estimated that opening a casino at Rockingham Park would result in an additional 1,200 serious crimes per year in Salem and surrounding communities. Nor is Cooper’s contention backed up by the most comprehensive analysis of the casino-crime relationship yet undertaken, a 19-year study of FBI statistics published in 2006 in The Review of Economics and Statistics.
That study found that while crime can actually diminish for a few years after the opening of a casino, in just a few years it increases significantly as the crime and social ills that come with problem gambling increase. The study concluded that “overall, 8.6 percent of property crime and 12.6 percent of violent crime in counties with a casino was due to the presence of the casino.”
Lawmakers debating bills to permit a casino will hear a lot of claims and statistics before a final vote is taken. They should vet the claims carefully. The casino-crime link is well established.