49 Fed. Probation 39 (1985)
Effect of Casino Gambling on Crime, The

handle is hein.journals/fedpro49 and id is 133 raw text is: The Effect of Casino Gambling on Crime*
BY JAY S. ALBANESE, PH. D.
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Niagara University

HE LEGALIZATION of gambling has at-
tracted a great deal of attention from a large
number of cities and states within the last 20
years. Lured by the potential for new sources of
revenue that do not involve increases in income,
property, or sales taxes, many states have opted
to legalize various forms of gambling. Since 1963,
21 states have begun state lotteries, 3 states have
permitted wagering on the game of jai alai, 2
states have legalized off-track betting, and 1 state
has established casino gambling [Fowler, Man-
gione, and Pratter, 1978; Moss and Loftus, 1985].
Although legalized gambling has not produced
the revenues anticipated by its proponents, the net
financial gain has not been insignificant [Task Force
on Legalized Gambling, 19741. In New Jersey, for
example, casinos paid the city, county, and state
$200 million in fees and taxes during 1981.
Since 1978, moreover, they have paid more than $265
million-8 percent of their gambling winnings-into a state
fund to help elderly and disabled people. This year, $125
million is budgeted for distribution in four programs that
give qualified people an average of $187 for medical prescrip-
tions, $175 for utility bills and $275 for property tax relief
[McFadden, 19821.
The success of casinos in producing revenues in
both Nevada and Atlantic City has drawn increas-
ing scrutiny by government officials, city planners,
and the public.
Unlike most other forms of legalized gambling,
casinos have the potential to improve a wide range
of social and economic problems, rather than merely
raising needed funds. In Atlantic City, for example,
the casino industry has not only produced substan-
tial revenues for the state, but has also provided for
28,500 new jobs, over $2 billion in new construction,
and a 16 percent increase in new housing starts in
the industry's first year of development, when the
national figure had     dropped   by  13  percent
[Woodruff, 1979; 1980; 1980a]. In addition, the
city's taxable property has tripled from $312 million
to over $1 billion since casinos opened. It is ex-
pected to double again as new construction con-
tinues [McGowan, 1983].
The first casino opened in May 1978 following a
successful state referendum that permitted casino
*This research was funded by a grant from the Niagara
Research Council whose support is gratefully acknowledged.
The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Research
Council.

development only in Atlantic City. In 1984, Atlantic
City had 10 hotel-casinos in operation with another
four under construction [Seglem, 1984]. As a result,
the tourism trade has been extraordinary.
There are about 52 million people living within 300 miles of
Atlantic City and more than 19 million of them visited Atlan-
tic City last year, while only 11.8 million went to Las Vegas.
This year, the number of tourists in Atlantic City is expected
to soar past 22 million [Jankowski, 1982].
In 1983, nearly 27 million people visited Atlantic
City, making it the most popular resort in the
United States. It is clear, therefore, that the impact
of casino gambling can be significant in many areas.
For this reason, a number of cities and states are
now considering proposals to authorize casino
gambling. Although these proposals are in varying
stages of development, New York State, Penn-
sylvania, New Orleans, Detroit, Los Angeles, and
Florida have all expressed more than passing in-
terest in casino development [Lenehan, 1979].
The advent of legalized gambling casinos outside
of Nevada has not been without its critics, however.
Primary among the concerns expressed has been the
threat that casino gambling will greatly increase
crime in formerly safe cities. When Florida re-
jected a proposition to legalize casino gambling in
1978, fear of increased crime was acknowledged as
the most significant reason for its defeat [Bumsted,
19821. This concern was fueled largely by reports
from Atlantic City that crime had increased
markedly since the introduction of casino gambling
[Marks, 1980]. In spite of these claims, however, the
link between casino gambling and crime has yet to
be conclusively established.
Officials' Views of Casino Gambling
The connection, if any, between casino gambling
and crime is significant for several reasons. First,
the existence and extent of such a relationship
should be carefully established before making any
decision about the desirability of casino gambling.
Second, if no such link exists, those objecting to
legalized casinos would be forced to abandon their
arguments to oppose them or else to resist casino
proposals on other grounds. Finally, regardless of
the findings of the study reported here, the debate
over the casino issue will be simplified through the
elimination of a controversial issue which has, to
date, been addressed only through questionable
data and conflicting opinion.
Surprisingly, relatively little serious attention has
been given to the effect of casinos on crime. In 1976,

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