Running Head: Crime and Gambling
Gambling can be viewed as the act of risking money (or equivalent) on an uncertain chance of winning a larger amount of money (or some other good). Gambling may involve some element of skill (e.g., poker, horse track bets) or be determined by pure chance (e.g., slot machines, lotteries) (Turner & Fritz, 2007). In nearly all cases, the long-term expected result for the player is a loss. Gambling and its link with criminal activity is an area of growing research interest. Studies from various regions worldwide have suggested an association between criminal activity and easily accessible gambling, yet, despite growth in the commercial gambling industry, relatively little is known about the nature, extent or impact of gambling-related crime. Many types of gambling have been, indeed still are, illegal. Hence, by definition, criminals were the only operators of games. When gambling restrictions were relaxed, criminals were the first to open up legal gambling establishments. A lax regulatory framework in Nevada did not prevent members of organized crime from openly owning and operating casinos. To some degree, Nevada needed the criminals to make gambling viable because no one else had their expertise and experience. Nevada was plagued by teamster financing, hidden ownership, employment of individuals of questionable character and background, and the clear links to organized crime. In this context, organized crime doesn't just mean Mafia. Nevada improved its regulation only under the threat of federal intervention. The federal government believed, with good reason, that Nevada casinos were fueling organized crime throughout the country. Because of this history, the concern about organized crime usually is raised whenever legalizing gambling is discussed. Even when New Hampshire began its state lottery in 1964, there was concern that organized crime would take over. Much has changed since the days when Bugsy Siegel started the first modern casino in Las Vegas. Organized crime has become part of the mystique of gambling but it is without significant influence today. Las Vegas and the Flamingo are part of an historical association with organized crime. Casino gaming has become one of the most highly regulated industries in America. The companies and individuals involved are very carefully scrutinized and held to extremely high standards. The organized crime scare is simply that, a scare according to many observers.6 Gambling is indeed associated with crime, specifically political corruption. Researchers state that organized crime is more of a product of illegal or poorly regulated gambling than well-regulated gambling. That is especially worrisome because gambling isn't just done within the large casinos. There are many other gambling opportunities and not all are as well-regulated or as free of organized crime influence as casinos. In California, card rooms and Indian casinos have been a focus of concern about criminal infiltration. Gambling is a Natural Target for Criminals Because of the Large Amounts of Cash. Gambling operations, including card rooms, earn large amounts of cash and present particular opportunities for skimming and money laundering. Dealers don't have to continually inventory their chips and money while they are working, providing opportunities for fraud. In addition, cheats are drawn to casinos and card rooms because of the large amount of money generated by the facilities. Dealer skimming of chips by palming or collusion is probably the greatest risk. Clubs allow employees to gamble when they aren't working, a situation that can lead to collusion. Other risks include credit abuse, card cheaters, and currency transaction violations. Because of these factors, proper operations and security are very important. Skimming has been a significant problem. The Kefauver committee found that it was widespread. There were indictments in the early 1960s of casino owners for tax...
William R. Eadington, "The Legalization of Casinos: Policy Objectives, Regulatory Alternatives, and Cost/Benefit Considerations," Journal of Travel Research vol. XXXIV, no. 3 (Winter 1996) p. 5.
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