Crime did not increase downtown Springfield after MGM casino opened, study finds

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Crime did not increase in downtown Springfield after the opening of the MGM casino. 

The state’s Gaming Commission met in Springfield on Thursday after their crime analysis study found that MGM was the region’s top location for police calls, but there was minimal overall impact on crime. 

Police responded to close to 900 calls in the first four full months after MGM Springfield opened, making it the top location in the region for calls, arrests, and crime reports. But that’s just under 2-percent of the city’s overall crime. 

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s crime analysis found MGM’s impact on total crime trends was “barely perceptible.” A woman who moved to the area last year said the city was safer than what she’d heard. 

“That it wasn’t very good, the crime rate was insanely high, and that it was kind of dangerous,” said Elisha Hourihan of Springfield. “I was a little worried to come out here. It’s not bad actually. I kind of like it a lot.” 

The analysis found that crime in the metro center did not increase after the casino opened. The exception being Union Station, which saw a 62 percent increase in their average crimes of fights, thefts and disorderly conduct, but there were also more people passing through.  

The study found an increase in crashes directly surrounding the casino. But with thousands of visitors every day, an increase wasn’t unexpected. 

“Busy now, a lot busier than before,” said Kevin Belder of Springfield. “Before it was dead, now it’s picking up really good. We got more cars around here.” 

The MGC’s analyst collected data on 11 participating communities. They were unable to show a concrete connection between those crimes and the casino opening. 

It’s important to point out that this was a very short-term time sample of four months. The analyst plans to compare crime rates in Springfield to casino communities in other states. 

Additional study findings: 

The Gaming Commission issued a $100,000 fine to MGM Springfield for multiple underage violations at a meeting in Springfield.

In the casino’s first two months of opening, the Commission found more than 20 incidents of underage people on the casino floor. But, within the first month of opening, the casino put new measures in place to try and crack down on underage gambling.

In September, MGM began requiring no minors be allowed on the gaming floors, no one under 16 without an adult in the facility, and a curfew requiring minors who are not staying at the casino hotel to be out by midnight. 

MGM agreed to the fine on Thursday, waving its right to a hearing.

The Gaming Commission said the casino has been fully cooperating and has asked them to provide a detailed security plan aimed at further preventing minors from gambling.

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