A new study led by economists at the University of Illinois suggests that access to video gambling is responsible for an increase of violent crime and property crime in Chicago.
The Video Gaming Act of Illinois took effect in 2012, allowing local businesses with a liquor license to have up to four gambling terminals; presently, there are somewhere around 6,000 video gambling parlors in the state. Chicago maintains its 1993 ban on gambling, but access to video gambling has increased in the city thanks to its adoption by neighboring municipalities.
Unlike other gambling studies which have been region- or state- specific, the authors analyzed block-level data. Drawing on police reports between January 2006 and June 2016, as well as monthly data on establishments with video gambling from the Illinois Gaming Board, the study found that “access to gambling adds on average 0.10 and 0.28 violent and property crimes per block group each month.
In other words, legalizing video gambling has contributed to approximately 1,450 and 4,100 additional violent and property crimes in Chicago since the Video Gaming Act took effect.”
While former studies have found a positive link between casinos and increased crime, the authors point out that “crime effects due to casino openings are driven by multiple mechanisms, not just gambling itself,” including an increase of visitors to counties where a casino has opened. By looking at video gambling only, researchers were able to eliminate factors extraneous to gambling.
“The effect of access to video gambling on crime seems to be permanent. It increases over time and stabilizes after twelve to eighteen months,” the study concludes.
Within the blocks closest to video gaming establishments, the authors found:
- Most of the effects on violent crimes are driven by robbery, which increased by 13.1%
- Statistically significant increases in aggravated battery (5.99%) and sexual assault (14.1%).
- No statistically significant effects for homicide or aggravated assault.
- Increase in property crime, mostly driven by an increase in motor vehicle thefts of 12.3%
- Burglary and larceny also increased by 5.6% and 4.78%
This summary was prepared by Deputy Content Editor Victoria Mckenzie. The full report, authored by Nicolas Bottan, Andres Ham, and Ignacio Sarmiento-Barbieri, can be downloaded here. Readers’ comments are welcome.