Massachusetts’ first casino hasn’t sparked a rise in criminality in its surrounding communities, according to a report prepared for state gaming regulators.
Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) received a report it had asked to be prepared on crime levels in the vicinity of Plainridge Park Casino, the Penn National Gaming-owned slots hall that launched in June 2015, the first of four casinos the state is preparing to welcome in the next few years.
Crime analysis expert and former Cambridge cop Christopher Bruce told the MGC that data from Plainville and five surrounding communities in the six months following the casino launch showed a mild rise in the number of traffic incidents, along with an increase in reported kidnappings and prostitution.
However, Bruce noted that these increases “clearly had nothing to do” with Plainridge Park, as the kidnappings appeared related to parental custody disputes while the prostitution rise was the result of two incidents at a hotel in Wrentham. A rise in burglary rates was attributed to two heroin-addicted serial offenders with “no casino-related motives.”
Overall, Bruce said any incidents directly linked to Plainridge Park 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.”
Plainville Police Chief James Alfred concurred with Bruce’s findings, saying his officers were summoned more often to a shopping complex adjacent to the casino. Alfred offered a “so far so good’ verdict on Plainridge Park’s impact on the community.
Both Bruce and Alfred said more time would be required to judge the casino’s true community impact. The MGC has commissioned a more long-term study, the results of which will be submitted this fall.