Proponents of casinos claim that the creation of additional casinos in South Florida will improve unemployment numbers. Anti-casino activists retort that resort casinos in Miami-Dade County would increase the crime rate leading to increased costs to the residents. In recent times, Miami criminal attorneys have defended large numbers of defendants charged with economic crimes such as mortgage fraud, Medicare fraud and insurance fraud. If large scale casinos are built, opponents say gambling crimes such as robbery theft, burglary, drug offenses, prostitution and embezzlement will increase. Others claim that the increased crime will lead to the increased costs of housing prisoners in the local state department of corrections system. In reality, no one is sure how additional casinos will ultimately impact crime. Spokespersons for local law enforcement have yet to render an opinion claiming that is near impossible to measure casino crime.
While the Florida legislature has yet to pass laws enabling large casinos to enter the county, discussions between lawmakers is currently underway in Tallahassee. Supporters of the proposed legislation claim that the casinos have the ability to create badly needed jobs, while opponents claim that these are false promises. Another report generated as a result of the controversy estimates that the inclusion of the proposed casinos will cost the State of Florida $3 billion for the cost of incarcerating additional prisoners and building new prisons. Many studies have been done regarding an increased crime rate that comes along with the implementation of casinos. The results have been skewed depending on who paid for or sponsored the study. However, a couple of independent studies have been compiled projecting whether or not casinos directly cause an increase in criminal offenses.
One study out of the University of Illinois revealed that crimes would increase about 8%, 3three or four years after the casinos begin to operate. The report went further to say that the creation of casinos does not shift crimes from other communities, but rather creates new crimes. The report failed to mention whether the crimes created would be drug offenses, crimes against personal property, such as robbery or burglary, or more white collar crimes, such as, forgery, fraud or embezzlement. Another national study created by Harvard and MIT reported that counties that built and operated casinos saw a jump in criminal activity. Opponents of these studies claim that they are flawed. Factors left out of the study included the increased tourism and crimes related to tourism.
At present, Miami and South Florida have 10 casinos that are currently operating. However, statistics relating to casino related crimes have never been compiled. Law enforcement departments claim that is difficult to determine exactly which crimes are linked to casinos. First, the majority of the casinos are located on Indian reservations. Law enforcement that operate on the reservations do not have the same reporting requirements as other departments. Secondly, those casinos are operated with a high degree of security, more so, than in other areas of the community. Third, when crimes are charged, the motive for the criminal offense is not reported in any current statistic. Fourth, the new mega-casinos will include table games such as roulette and craps which are not offered at the present time. While both sides will continue to argue to pros and cons of additional casinos, the community and defense attorneys will never truly know the impact unless the law is passed permitting additional gambling in the State of Florida.
Casino Opponents: Gambling Would Lead to More Crime, Miami Herald.com, February 1, 2012.