Anti-Casino Group Study: Mega Casinos Will Cause Crime Spike

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If craps tables and roulette wheels come to South Florida crime will spin out of control.

That was the claim of casino opponents who released a scientific study Wednesday, showing that casinos will boost burglary, car theft, robbery, rape, prostitution and political payoffs.

The study, conducted by two long-time former revenue and policy analysts for the State of Florida, predicts an eight to twelve percent increase in crime in the first few years after the proposed mega casinos open.

The ante for taxpayers will be huge, according to the study, that says the cost of prisons and jails alone to house gambling related offenders will hit $3 billion within ten years.

The figure does not include the price tag for police work, prosecutors and the courts. It also does not include the price of lost property.

Former United States Attorney Roberto “Bob” Martinez, a member of the casino opposition group, No Casinos, Inc., said he fears corruption that high rolling gambling interests can bring to police efforts and politics.

“I think the biggest threat to our society is the massive infusion of cash into the political process by these mega groups,” Martinez said.

Casino proponents called the crime study flawed.

“The gaming industry is here already, they’ve been here for years, and no one has documented any increase in crime in connection with the gaming industry,” said Carlos Curbelo, a spokesman for Resorts World International, an outfit that proposes a major casino resort for the Miami water front.

Opponents counter that the wagering allowed now on reservations and at pari-mutuel sites is penny ante compared to the proposed mega casinos that would tower over South Florida skylines.

State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Republican from Broward County, and a co-sponsor of the measure to permit casino gambling, dismissed the study released by opponents Wednesday.

“I’m not a big fan of studies, because I think it’s how you ask the questions and how you study something,” Bogdanoff told CBS4 News in Tallahassee. “A lot of time they’re looking for a certain result and the study is reflective of the result that they want.”

Casino opponents said that in cities where big money wagering has been allowed, promised advantages have been fleeting and benefits from increased tax revenues are quickly outpaced by the cost of crime, gambling addiction and related infrastructure.

“Wherever these casinos have come, they have brought nothing but heartache and misery to the communities that have hostem them,” said Norman Braman, a Miami auto magnate and civic activist. “I challenge the industry to name me one community in the United States that has benefited from casino gambling after a period of five years.”

The casino bill has already cleared committee in the Florida Senate and faces a key vote in a House committee on Friday. If it passes the house committee, the full legislature will take up the contentious issue.

More from Gary Nelson
  • Steve Norton

    I read in Politi/Fact Florida that the “No Casinos” advertisements are stating that crime in Las Vegas is number 1 in the Nation. I did a little fact checking myself, comparing the FBI Crime Statistics of Las Vegas and Henderson, a city that is part of greater Las Vegas, to many Florida resort communities. The FBI Statistics are the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents, for the year 2010, the last year available.

    Las Vegas was at 893.0 and Henderson at 205.5. Florida resorts that were higher, were Daytona Beach, 1,272.4, St. Petersburg 1,131.9, Ft. Pierce 1,126.2, Miami 1,107.7, Orlando 1,071.5, Ft. Myers 1,056.7, Sarasota 981.2, Miami Beach 981.9 and Pompano Beach at 965.5. Property crimes per 100,000, were double that of Vegas in Daytona Beach 7,272.2, Orlando 6,479.4 and triple in Miami Beach at 9,936.3, compared to 3,051.3 in Vegas. Henderson with a number of its own casinos had a lower violent crime rate than 37 of the 38 Florida communities studied (Boca Raton was lower at 203.0), but all 38 had higher property crime rates.

    In deference to the high rates in resort communities, the FBI does not take visitor counts, or employees commuting to work from another city, when they compare crime to the permanent population of an area. But Las Vegas, with 40 million visitors would benefit from a much lower adjusted rate, as would Orlando and Miami.

    I hope the “No Casinos” group does a better job in the future of fact checking their adds.

    No casino proponent would suggest that this group is not within their rights to be morally or otherwise opposed to casinos in Florida, but those citizens who have not made a conscious decision on gaming, should have the benefit of reliable facts when asked for their vote in a casino referendum.

  • Ericstevenc Tix Stubs

    i think it will cause thousands of jobs and bring millions of people here and billions of dollars . Do it before cuba opens up and we are regretting not doing it when we had the chance.

  • gary

    Crime will go up the same 8 to 12 percent regardless of why people are visiting Miami. Come here for the casinos, or to get on a cruise ship, or ANY leisure activity, crime is part of the mix. If it bothers you, stay away – or be alert and carry a weapon like most of the locals. Welcome to the “new” Wild Wild West

  • John Balzer

    The crime is being committed right now by the No Casinos attempting to scare the public out of a good thing. Casinos are inherently some of the safest places on earth. There is security everywhere. You cannot take statistics from Nevada and Atlantic City and try to apply them here. In both those locations, slums border the casinos and that is simply not the case here. Look at the concept building in the picture above. Bordered by the bay, the AAA to the south, the Arsht Center to the east and the Marriott to the north, the Genting project is hardly bordered by slums. According to the Office of the State Attorney, crime decreased over the years in Miami. Recent spikes in thefts like people stealing copper pipes from air conditioning units are directly related to the bad economy and the lack of jobs. Attempts to stop casino reform would only make matters worse. Passing reform will create thousands of jobs and repair the economy.

  • Susan Spector

    I feel perfectly safe going to any of the casinos around town. If there is a crime going on, it’s in Tallahassee where the politicians are raking in millions of dollars in campaign contributions from special interest groups like the ones that oppose casinos. Maybe the Seminole should oppose their own casinos. They do cheat the state out of billions. It’s time for a little common sense Miami. Pass the bill and regulate all gambling.

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