Philosophy Magazine

Fear And Loathing In Colombo

By Stfallen @stfallen

I never could go through with that movie. Sri Lanka has opened its doors to former Scientologist James Packer’s proposed “gaming zone” read Casino district. Judging by the affect gambling has had on the indigenous ‘Indian’ population of the US, I am not keen on seeing this become a reality. While speaking to a former President’s Counsel, he told me that he had read through studies while working with the UNODC on the effect Casino culture has on crime. He claimed that a Casino district would open doors to human trafficking, human smuggling, narcotics, prostitution and the mafia. It seemed like a far fetched and exaggerated reality. I decided to do my own reading and came across this study: Earl L. Grinols and David B. Mustard, “Casinos, Crime, and Community Costs,” The Review of Economics and Statistics. The study, dated 2006, basically finds little to no correlation between casinos and crime, though it observes that a crime rate has never receded following the introduction of casinos.

Grinols and Mustard provide a detailed discussion of the theoretical connection between casinos and crime (31-32). They discuss two potential factors through which casinos may reduce crime. First, if casinos present better job opportunities for low-skilled workers, crime may fall. Second, there may be economic development effects attributable to casino gambling that could reduce crime.

On the other hand, Grinols and Mustard discuss five ways in which casinos may lead to an increase in crime. First, casinos may harm economic development by draining the local economy of resources. Second, casinos may lead to an increased crime payoff, resulting in more crime. Third, pathological gambling may increase with the spread of casinos, and this can lead to more crime. Fourth, casinos may also attract criminals to a region, leading to more crime. Finally, Grinols and Mustard explain that casinos may induce a change in the local population, toward one more apt to commit crimes. The Grinols and Mustard mechanisms between casinos and crime seem reasonable and largely uncontroversial.

- Douglas M. Walker, Do Casinos Really Cause Crime? A comment on: Earl L. Grinols and David B. Mustard, “Casinos, Crime, and Comm unity Costs,” The Review of Economics and Statistics

It seems we will have to wait and see what Colombo’s fate will be. Will our toddy tapping teetotalers find happy go lucky bliss in Packer’s deep pockets, or will our people be exploited? Time will tell. One thing’s for sure, this would be an interesting time for Carl Muller to write a sequel to his cruddy Colombo

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