What’s the connection?
By William Thompson, Ricardo Gazel and Dan Rickman
This is a study of crime and gambling. This research report is the final report in a trilogy of studies on contemporary gambling in Wisconsin. The first report — issued in April 1995 — concentrated upon the monetary impacts of Wisconsin’s 17 Native American casinos upon local and statewide economies (Thompson, Gazel, and Rickman, 1995). The second report — published in July 1996 — examined the societal costs that are attached to the phenomenon of serious problem gambling among Wisconsin residents (Thompson, Gazel, and Rickman, 1996).
The two previous reports examined two issues in depth: (1) the economic development that results from casinos, and (2) the dangers of compulsive gambling for a society. There is a third issue that is raised whenever people debate the advantages and disadvantages of having legalized gambling. The issue concerns the relationship of crime and the presence of gambling operations in a community.
In this report, the authors of the two previous reports seek to answer these essential questions: How has the introduction of legalized gambling operations in Wisconsin affected criminal activity in the state? Has the presence of casino gambling on the Native American reservations of the state caused an increase (or perhaps a decrease) in the incidence of criminal activities? All crimes? Certain crimes? Does the presence of a casino in one county or in close-by counties generate higher numbers of crimes in local communities of these counties than in counties lacking casinos or counties which are not located near casino locations? Did crime rates change after casinos were introduced into various parts of the state? If there is a demonstrable positive relationship between the incidence of crime and gambling, can we determine how much crime is associated with gambling? Can we suggest the economic consequences of this added crime? Can we identify specific causes that are linked to any relationships of crime and gambling which can be found in the analysis? Finally, what recommendations can be offered for reducing or eliminating crime that may be associated with gambling in Wisconsin?