Officials: Little Crime Associated With Casinos

Despite anti-casino groups' claims that the facilities bring crime, law enforcement says it's hard to prove

Anti-casino groups claim casinos and crime go hand-in-hand.

“Crime rates in case of communities to be 84 percent higher than the nationwide average,” said Norman Braman, a South Florida businessman, who is an outspoken critic of casinos.

The threat of increased crime and other social evils did not stop Miami-Dade and Broward voters from voting to install slots in local parimutuel facilities.

In Broward, Gulfstream opened in 2006. Miami-Dade's Flagler dog track, which operates as Magic City casino installed slots in 2009.

In an anti-gambling state, the so-called racinos spread like wildfire. Since 2006, eight racinos have opened gaming operations in Miami-Dade and Broward, in addition to the existing casinos owned and operated by the Native American community.

But authorities say blaming casinos for an increase in crime is not that easy.

Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti says crime from Pompano Beach's Isle of Capri has been neglible.

Further south in Hallandale, the Mardi Gras Casino and Gulfstream had less incidents than authorities had anticipated.

Authorities, from police officers to sergeants, say Miami-Dade and Broward's casino and racinos are not an issue when it comes to crime.

"I believe the current set up of gambling here in Florida works for us because we went into existing facilities,” said Hallandale police chief  Dwayne Flournoy.

"Parimutuels and gambing have been in Broward for a long time so we have not notice appreciable differences in crime with the racinos, the casino aspects of it," said Lamberti.

Sgt. Freddy Cruz, Miami police spokesman, has patrolled the area around Miami’s Magic City Casino.

"There was not any specific crime that was directly involved with the casino," he said.

Crime around the casino actually dropped from 11,000 incidents and two murders in 2008 to a little more than 9,000 incidents and one murder after it opened in 2011.
But in August 2011, several Calder Race Track employees hatched a plot to rob a Brinks truck, which ultimately left the Brinks driver dead and the five suspects arrested, police said.

"It was one in a million, was it the big one, was it at the casino? Yes,” said Miami Gardens Police spokesman Bill Bamford.

But besides this inside job, crime near the casino has been very light, authorities said.

"There is very little crime there,” said Bamford.


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