Casinos and Crime

BCLC executive Jim Lightbody and Gateway Casino’s Lawyer James Chen assure us crime is not a problem at casinos and they tell us that crime in neighborhoods near their casinos have low crime rates. They tell us that we need not fear any increase in crime due to the new South Surrey Entertainment and Casino Complex.

Just for fun, we checked. Here is what we found:

Casinos are a crime magnet according to the RCMP and Vancouver City Police. Crime reports increased by 4x in the neighborhood once the River Rock Casino was built in Richmond. Casinos are a hotbed of criminal money laundering and loan-sharks and drugs according to Police.

In the first six months of  2003, RCMP  received 32 calls from the small Bridgeport casino. In comparison, once the River Rock was built, during the first six months of 2006 the Mounties received 137 calls from River Rock — a four-fold increase.

Those calls included:
— 20 cases of impaired driving; 10 cases of disturbing the peace
— Seven cases of uttering threats
— Six cases of fraud;
— Six cases of assault;
— Three cases of cocaine possession.

At a news conference in August, Richmond RCMP Supt. Ward Clapham said his detachment was struggling to keep up with crime at River Rock. Clapham said three of five kidnappings in Richmond in 2006 have involved possible gambling-related extortion and two of the 11 kidnappings in 2005 were gambling-related. There have also been at least two suicides in Richmond related to gambling debts according to Clapham. See the links below for newspaper articles documenting the crime that occurs in and around entertainment complexes  like Richmond River Rock Casino:

If you do not believe newspapers, perhaps the testimony of Professor Robert Goodman, a non-partisan expert on gambling, economics and urban design, might convince you that Casinos attract crime and criminals into the neighborhood. See the video below:

So according to the Police, the newspapers, and university professors who are experts in this field, not only do Casinos attract criminal activity and organized crime, we have direct evidence for it right here in our own backyard. I do not know where the people from BCLC and Gateway Casinos do their research, but perhaps they need to do a little bit more.

4 thoughts on “Casinos and Crime

  1. I’m not at all surprised that the police are able to attribute an increase in criminal activity to a new Casino. Gaming, drinking, “entertainment” 24/7 and patrons with no personal investment in the local community spells OPPORTUNITY to me.

    It’s unconscionable that our City Council is entertaining the idea of locating the Casino in such close proximity to elementary and high schools. The Casino will be 24/7; it will attract more people to our area at all hours of the day/night; those people will have easy access to our children and our property. I can only conclude that our Mayor and Councillors have no interest in our children’s safety or the preservation of safe, quiet family neighbourhoods. The proposed location for this Casino is wrong in so many ways.

    I implore the Mayor and Councillors to make a decision in favour of our families and those who chose to locate in this oasis away from the city.

    Please do the right thing and take the Casino somewhere more appropriate.

  2. We’d like to share the following facts regarding claims made about casinos and crime.

    The existing Fraser Downs casino in Surrey and others across the province are living models of how casinos operate within communities. BCLC and casino security staff meet with local police on a routine basis to share pertinent information and deter criminal activity. These meetings include Surrey RCMP, who indicate they have no concerns about Fraser Downs. In fact, local authorities in cities with similar or larger sized gaming facilities, such as the Vancouver Police Department, have stated they have greater concerns about bars and night clubs than about casinos.

    Studies specific to the impact of casinos on communities in B.C. show the true picture and can’t be ignored. Between 2004 and 2006 the Province assessed the impacts of gambling in the Lower Mainland before, during and after a gaming facility was opened. Included in the study were Vancouver, the City and Township of Langley and Surrey, where slot machines and table games were added to Fraser Downs in November 2004.

    In each of the communities, the study found no significant increase in the overall rates of crime or problem gambling. The study is available here:

    Gambling in B.C. is highly regulated. The average lower mainland casino employs over 100 security staff with 20-30 staff working at any given time. Our larger casinos have over 800 surveillance cameras and 24 hour surveillance staff who operate according to strict standards set out by BCLC. This is more safety and security than you are likely to find at any comparably sized venue such as a shopping mall.

    The fact is casinos rank as the fifth most popular entertainment option among B.C. adults and more that 80 per cent play BCLC games at least once a year. We provide venues where they can enjoy gambling and other entertainment in a safe environment; the South Surrey proposal being no exception.

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