Daily Archives: February 17, 2012

Florida Mega Casinos would lead to More Crime at a Cost of $3 Billion in Incarceration Costs Alone

Casino Watch Focus reported that the opposition for Florida’s mega-destination casinos had grown to include some very impressive and influential groups.  The group No –Casinos reported on the results of a study entitled “Casinos and Florida: Crime and Prison Costs.”  The Miami Herald explains that the reports points to a huge increase in crime, which will cost Florida $3 billion:

Allowing resort casinos in Miami-Dade County would lead to a spike in crime — from rapes to burglaries — an anti-gaming group charged on Wednesday.

The No Casinos advocacy group, whose membership includes heavy-hitters such as former state Senator Dan Gelber and billionaire auto magnate Norman Braman, based its dire predictions on a new study it commissioned, titled “Casinos and Florida: Crime and Prison Costs.”

Add up all those new crimes, and the study estimates the state will have to spend an additional $3 billion in incarceration costs (housing prisoners and building new prisons) in a 10-year period after resort casinos open in Miami-Dade.

The study analyzed the 2006 National study of casino-crime connection published by Harvard and MIT in the Review of Economics and Statistics.  A former attorney for the Florida Legislature and a former state economist concluded that there would be an 8 -12 percent increase in crime as a result of the new casinos.  Even if some of the unique characteristics of Florida that critics of the study point to are factored in, namely that there are a lot of tourist who will also frequent the casinos, its not hard to see how even half the projected crime increase could cause over a billion dollar loss to Florida.  The Miami Herald goes on to explain that the crime rates could be even higher when you calculate the impact of problem gamblers:

Perhaps the strongest connection between gambling and lawbreaking is one that’s somewhat overlooked in the No Casinos study — the high frequency of criminal activity among those who are compulsive or problem gamblers. When people have more gambling options close to home, the prevalence of problem gambling increases, as evidenced by the rising number of callers to the state’s toll-free gambling addiction helpline.

Calls to the helpline have increased 57 percent in the last four years — just as gambling has expanded at Florida’s Indian casinos and racetracks. More than one-third of helpline callers these days admit to some form of criminal activity to help finance their habit.

“That’s the one-third that are admitting it,” said Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling Deputy Director Jennifer Campbell, who suspects the true percentage is even higher.

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