Casino study: Town not caught in vice

Boston Herald - - BIZ SMART - BY JONATHAN NG — [email protected]­her­ald.com

A new study by the Univer­sity of Mas­sachusetts Amherst found that so­cial and eco­nomic im­pacts of casino gam­bling are not as bad as what peo­ple think they would be.

“At the state level, there is no com­pelling ev­i­dence that nega­tive im­pacts re­lated to prob­lem gam­bling have in­creased as a re­sult of casino in­tro­duc­tion,” said lead re­searcher Rachel Vol­berg.

Bank­ruptcy, di­vorce, re­strain­ing or­ders and cases of child wel­fare are “re­lated in­di­ca­tors to prob­lem gam­bling,” she said.

Vol­berg and her team con­ducted the study sur­round­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of Plain­ridge Park Casino, which opened in 2015, on the so­cioe­co­nomic im­pacts the casino would bring to sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods.

Re­searchers found that there is “no ev­i­dence that the in­tro­duc­tion of casino gam­bling has had any im­pact on crime rates” on the statewide level.

Lo­cally, how­ever, the UMass Amherst re­searchers note there has been an in­crease in credit card fraud, lost prop­erty, re­ports of sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity and traf­fic com­plaints in the town of Plainville that “can likely be at­trib­uted” to the casino.

“There has been a sig­nif­i­cant change in both statewide and re­gional at­ti­tudes to­wards gam­bling that likely re­flects greater sat­is­fac­tion with the cur­rent gam­bling land­scape,” re­searchers found.

MGM Spring­field opened its doors last sum­mer and En­core Bos­ton Har­bor is ex­pected to open June 2019. Both casi­nos will be part of the univer­sity’s fu­ture gam­bling stud­ies.

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