In just two short weeks the Sands Casino Hotel will open in Bethlehem, PA. Bethlehem holds a special place in my heart, it is the home of my alma mater Lehigh University.
While experts have produced a study that states there will be no significant change in crime associated with the Casino, history tells a different story.
The study for the Bethlehem Casino was conducted by G. Patrick Gallagher, president of a consulting group that reviews police department policies, surveyed eight police departments across the country who respond to calls from slots casinos. Gallagher included Bensalem Township police, which covers the Philadelphia Park Casino and Racetrack in Bucks County.
(Source: The Morning Call)
The major problem I see with the study is that it does not take into consideration the preexisting conditions.
In the late 80's I worked security and worked in the Alcohol and Beverage Industry in a Beer Distributor.After the collapse of Bethlehem Steel, the area became extremely depressed. The only economy was from the 8 colleges in the area who used to educate the engineers for the steel company. Crime, drugs and unemployment was everywhere. It was a very rough spot and over recent years has gotten progressively worse.
In the study, it sites a Racetrack and Casino in Bucks County PA. A rural and sedate community far from any major city.
Las Vegas is another "success" story. Economically anyway. In the middle of the desert, crime is somewhat contained. Most of the people visiting Las Vegas and Bucks County are not just people who take day trips. Spending the night in the resorts brings a higher class of client.
In 1976 Atlantic City, a previously depressed area like Bethlehem, PA looked to Vegas as the model for success. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. Close proximity to Philadelphia and New York have created a destination for all criminals types. Atlantic City now enjoys a violent crime rate that is 2.57 time the national average and a larceny and theft rate that is almost 3.5 time the national average.
Bethlehem, PA is just about the same distance from New York and Philadelphia.
What will happen to my alma mater? You can only guess that the sheltered college kids are going to venture in the casino and become fodder for the predators. Sure a kid will lose his shirt at the tables...only if he's lucky.