According to a report prepared for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), the state’s first casino hasn’t caused a rise in criminal activity in surrounding communities.
The MGC received a report last week that it requested be prepared on crime levels in the area of the Penn National Gaming-owned slots hall, Plainridge Park Casino, which launched in June of last year. Plainridge Park is the first of four casinos, including MGM Springfield, Project First Light Resort & Casino, and the Wynn Boston Harbor Resort that state will be welcoming over the next few years.
Former Cambridge cop and crime analysis expert Christopher Bruce told the MGC that data collected from five surrounding communities and Plainville in the six months following the launch of the casino indicated there was a mild rise in the number of traffic incidents, as well as an increase in reported kidnappings and prostitution. However, it was noted by Bruce that the increases “clearly had nothing to do” with Plainridge Park, as the rise in prostitution was attributed to two incidents at a hotel in Wrentham and it appeared the kidnappings were related to parental custody disputes. And two heroin-addicted serial offenders with “no casino-related motives,” were attributed to the increase in burglary rates, according to CalvinAyre.
All in total, Bruce said that any incidents that occurred that were directly linked to the new casino were “commensurate with expected totals at similar facilities that draw lots of people, have a large parking area, offer retail, entertainment, and dining options, and serve alcohol.”
Bruce’s findings were echoed by Plainville Police Chief James Alfred who said his officers responded to more calls at a shopping center adjacent to the casino. The police chief said “so far so good” regarding Plainridge Park’s impact on the community. Both Alfred and Bruce said in order to judge the true impact of the casino on the community more time would be required. Meanwhile, a more long-term study has been commissioned by the MGC, and those results will be studied in the fall.
In related news, stemming from concern regarding the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s casino to be built in Taunton, on Tuesday legislators called for the MGC to postpone voting on the proposed $677 million Brockton casino, which is scheduled to take place next week. The group wants the MGC to study the potential impact of the casino on gambling taxes first.