A study released Wednesday by a group that's hoping to keep casinos out of Miami-Dade claims they'll bring an increase in crime to the area that will cost taxpayers billions.
The study released by No Casinos claims crime will increase between 8 and 12 percent over the first 10 years if two casinos are built in the county.
"Our study concludes that if the current destination resort casino bill is adopted and two casinos are built in Miami-Dade county, that the county will see an increase in crime rate of 8 to 12 percent," the study's author, Richard Herring, said at a news conference Wednesday. "we estimate the costs to the state for the imprisonment of new offenders to be $3 billion over the first 10 years...after the casinos open in Miami-Dade County."
Herring said the figure didn't include the costs to victims of the crime or costs to police, prosecutors and the court system.
"Special interest groups opposing destination resorts continue turning to scare tactics to misinform the public and advance their own motives, despite the fact that Florida voters have supported gaming measures time and again," Jessica Hoppe, general counsel for Resorts World Miami, said in a statement. "These individuals use false information to imply world-class destination resorts will bring crime to the community."
Also at the news conference were former State Senator Dan Gelber, businessman Norman Braman, and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Bob Martinez.
"I challenge today the casino people to name to me one community in the United States...that has benefited from casino gambling after a period of five years," Braman said.
"In the [American Gaming Association] 2011 Survey of Casino Entertainment, in 2010 U.S. commercial casinos generated $34.60 billion in gross gaming revenues. Of those revenues, $7.59 billion was returned to state and local governments in the form of direct gaming taxes to pay for a wide range of goods and services that benefit the industry’s host communities," Hoppe said.
The bill to license three resort casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward counties is moving through committees in Tallahassee while big South Florida cities are lining up in opposition to the mega resorts.
Fort Lauderdale commissioners officially declared that they are not interested in a resort coming to their city. Miami Beach passed a similar resolution, stating clearly that they too are not interested.
Martinez said a potential increase in crime wasn't the only concern with the casinos.
"To me, apart from the increase in criminal activity that I believe the mega casinos will cause to our area, my biggest concern frankly, the biggest threat to our society is from the massive infusion of cash into the political process by these mega groups," Martinez said. "There'll be nothing really to counterbalance it."