By a Biometrica staffer
The last few days have brought a mixed bag of news for the casino industry, with extremely positive tidings on the gaming revenue front, and less positive reflections on the crime front.
Even with two months still to account for, the American Gaming Association (AGA) is projecting that commercial casinos in the U.S. will likely break the all-time record for gross gaming revenue in 2019. Just between Jan. and Oct., the industry generated around $43.43B, just short of the current record, 2019’s $43.65B. This bodes extremely well for an industry that was particularly rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic and a devastating 2020.
However, much like the rest of the country, casino hot spots like Las Vegas are also experiencing a post-lockdown crime wave. The Las Vegas Review-Journal detailed just a few of the long list of crimes committed on properties near or on the Strip in 2020, including: “a shooting in the valet of the Aria, gunfire on the casino floor of the MGM Grand, a stabbing in The Venetian, a shooting in front of Paris Las Vegas, a shooting in front of the Miracle Mile Shops, and a melee in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.”
This year, the article continues, there has been: a shooting at the Venetian, another at the Wynn Las Vegas involving two employees, one at a motel in Las Vegas Boulevard South in August and another nearby in September, and one more in November at Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard.
As a result, local police ramped up their presence on the Strip to try and deter criminals, and also to thwart a noted rise in aggravated assaults in the area. Called Operation Persistent Pressure, Las Vegas police this year made “52,000 stops of both pedestrians and vehicles across the convention center area command, confiscating more than 500 guns and making more than 9,000 arrests.”
According to Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Dori Koren, “Just like in any other major city, we started seeing increases in certain crimes. We’ve been able to deal with it and get it under control. It kind of resurfaced again this past year, and I’m proud to say we’ve made a lot of progress in dealing with it.”
Per the latest data, as of Nov. 26, there have been 426 aggravated assaults so far this year in the convention center area command (which also includes areas east and west of the Strip). That is 3.4% higher than the 412 recorded in 2010. Last year around the same time was when the Strip began to cautiously re-open following the Covid-19 lockdowns, and police at that time noted a 29% increase in aggravated assaults.
Crimes have largely risen across the board, including statistics on rapes, burglaries, vehicle theft, and larceny-theft. But the change in violent crime rates has been a relatively modest 4.3%, which police are marking down as a victory, given how many more people visited Vegas this year compared to 2020.
Police also cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the data, as comparisons between 2020 and 2021 are unlikely to be accurate given the vastly different circumstances the city was operating in across both years.
Meanwhile, in Delaware, William Brisco, 37, was arrested on Friday, Dec. 10, for allegedly leaving four young children (aged four, seven, nine, and 12 years old) alone in an SUV while he patronized a casino. He has been charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, as well as charges relating to possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, and having an unattended motor vehicle.
Delaware State Police troopers happened upon the children in the SUV while they were investigating illegally parked vehicles at the property. When Brisco emerged from the gaming floor, the troopers noticed what they thought was cocaine in his jacket sleeve. He tried to make a run for it, but was caught shortly after and arrested. He was released on a $7,050 bond.
This is just one of the hundreds of cases documented nationwide wherein parents leave their children unsupervised in vehicles in parking lots while they do other tasks.
Separately, police in Connecticut are searching for the person who shot a man at around 10 pm on Saturday, Dec. 11, in the parking garage of the Foxwoods Resort Casino. The shooter fled the scene soon after the crime, and little else is known about the circumstances surrounding the incident. Police are continuing to investigate, and the victim is in stable condition, recovering at the hospital.