RESEARCHING GAMBLING AND CRIME IN WESTERN CANADA Harold J. Wynne, Ph.D. Edmonton, Alberta March 8, 2002.
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RESEARCHING GAMBLING AND CRIME IN WESTERN CANADA Harold J. Wynne, Ph.D. Edmonton, Alberta March 8, 2002
BACKGROUND 1997 4 TH Interprovincial Conference on Problem Gambling Need for “gambling and crime” research Research agenda Impact on the community Community’s response
BACKGROUND Support for Research Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta (CISA) Alberta Chiefs of Police Canadian Association of Police Boards Canada West Foundation
GAMBLING AND CRIME IN WESTERN CANADA: EXPLORING MYTH AND REALITY The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between crime and gambling and to provide a preliminary review of the extent of which gambling in western Canada effects law enforcement agencies, provincial gaming regulatory bodies, and the criminal justice system.
PURPOSE AND GOALS The Primary Goals of the Project: 1.To provide a summary review of gambling and crime in western Canada. 2.To identify avenues for future research into the relationship between gambling and crime. 3.To develop a process that can be used across jurisdictions to assess the links between gambling and crime. 4.To supply information and analysis that can be used to inform public policy decisions.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Research Design 6 domains, 15 variables, 13 research questions Confirmed by expert opinion Scope was western Canada (BC, Alta, Sask, Man)
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Data Collection Literature review Interviews with key informants (purposive, snowball) Search of criminal court cases Review of print media stories (220 articles; 1994-1999) Crime statistics
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Limitations Documentary and statistical data (charges & judgments) Perceptions of key informants & number of interviews Included casino & racetrack senior officials only
CONCLUSIONS The Nature and Extent of Illegal Gambling Conclusions Illegal gambling is not pervasive throughout western Canada (most prominent in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg) Most prominent illegal gambling-sports betting with a bookmaker, card clubs, unlicensed VLTs, offshore lotteries Implications Law enforcement should be intensified in 4 major cities Inter-provincial “crime and gambling task force” should be established (RCMP, municipal police services, provincial gaming regulators)
CONCLUSIONS Illegal Gambling and Organized Crime Conclusions OC operations (i.e. motorcycle and ethnic gangs) are active in 4 largest cities in western Canada OC is mostly involved in crime related to drug trafficking, sex trade, and other activities (e.g. theft, assault, extortion) OC is also involved in some gambling-related crime (e.g. gaming houses, unlicensed machines, cheating at play, money laundering, loan sharking) No evidence that OC has infiltrated legal gambling operations in western Canada.
CONCLUSIONS Illegal Gambling and Organized Crime Implications OC groups exploit opportunities that arise in and around gambling venues (i.e. casinos, racetracks) Law enforcement, gambling regulators, facility security personnel should meet regularly to share intelligence
CONCLUSIONS Crimes Associated With the Legal Gambling Scene Conclusions Gambling venues, notably casinos and racetracks, act as magnets that attract certain types of crime (e.g. money laundering, loan sharking) Security staff concentrate on ensuring the safety of employees and customers, protecting assets, and protecting honesty and fairness of the game and they are less concerned with criminal activities.
CONCLUSIONS Crimes Associated With the Legal Gambling Scene Implications Strategies for surveillance, information exchange, and joint investigations should be explored in a formal relationship (law enforcement, gaming regulators, industry security) Racing industry improvements are needed (e.g. disclose recent veterinarian work and violations of track rules, life suspensions and criminal charges for administering banned substances, not allowing jockeys, drivers or trainers to bet)
CONCLUSIONS Gambling Law Enforcement Practices Conclusions Approaches to monitoring and controlling legal and illegal gambling are similar across the four western provinces and there is excellent inter-agency cooperation Municipal police services and the RCMP have limited resources to investigate illegal gambling activities, whereas, the provincial gaming regulators resources have increased Legal gambling is well regulated but illegal gambling enforcement is severely deficient
CONCLUSIONS Gambling Law Enforcement Practices Implications Left unaddressed, this resource disparity may negatively affect the working relationship between law enforcement agencies and provincial gaming regulators
CONCLUSIONS Gambling-Related Crime and the Court System Conclusions Gambling-related cases are few in number and generally are of 2 types: (1) finance gambling/pay gambling debts (e.g. theft, fraud, break and enter, drug dealing), and (2) illegal gambling (e.g. cheating at play, illegal lottery sales, unlicensed gambling on Native lands, keeping a common gaming house) Gambling cases are more likely to come before Provincial Courts than Court of Queens Bench Gambling addiction as a defense strategy falls on a continuum from outright rejection to acceptance as a mitigating factor in sentencing Judges have a limited knowledge of the effects of gambling addiction
CONCLUSIONS Gambling Law Enforcement Practices Implications A perceptual gap exists between police agents and the judiciary in how they view gambling related- crime Judges-victimless, innocuous, infrequent Police-interconnected, more serious/prevalent Minimizing the seriousness of gambling related crime may affect Justice system credibility and potentially damage the Criminal Code of Canada
CONCLUSIONS Gambling and Crime: Myths and Realities Myth #1-There is a clear casual link between the availability of gambling and higher crime rates. The presumption is that gambling expansion inevitably leads to more crime. ?The link between gambling and crime in western Canada is tenuous and not well understood Myth #2-Gambling and political corruption go hand-in-hand ?Legal gambling is strictly controlled and relatively free of corrupt practices Myth #3-Organized crime groups control gambling operations ?There is no evidence that OC groups dominate the illegal gambling market
USING POLICE INTELLIGENCE TO ASSESS GAMBLING IMPACTS The purpose of this project is to analyse City of Edmonton Police Department occurrence files to document and analyse linkages between gambling and criminal behavior.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS The Nature and Scope of Gambling-Related Crime 1.What is the magnitude of gambling-related crime 2.What trends have occurred in gambling-related crime over the past three years? 3.Which legal gambling formats are most often associated with criminal activity? 4.Which criminal activities are typically associated with gambling? 5.What types of crimes are committed in and around gambling venues?
RESEARCH QUESTIONS Law Enforcement Policy Pertaining to Gambling and Crime 6.How and to what extent is gambling-related crime monitored and enforced? 7.How can gambling related crime be tracked more accurately and comprehensively? 8.What resources are afforded to the Edmonton Police Service to enforce gambling laws? 9.What prevention strategies are used to limit gambling-related crime? 10.What is the role of the Edmonton Police Service in containing gambling-related crime vis-à-vis provincial gaming regulators, gaming venue security personnel, and other law enforcement agencies?
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Quantitative and qualitative methods At every incident requiring EPS attention over a 6 month period, officers inquire whether gambling was a factor. Economic crime files from Jan 1/00 to the present are content-analysed to ascertain whether and to what extent gambling played a role in the crime. Geographic crime mapping to assess the volume/type of crimes in and around gambling venues Interviews with EPS officers, gaming regulators, law enforcement officers, bank and gaming security officers. Documentary info (e.g. budget, policies, internal memos)
CONCLUSIONS Research is in progress, therefore, no conclusions yet. Some “tidbits” 37 gambling-related occurrences (18 in 2001 and 19 n 2002) Casino & VLT venue computer search results 5 examples of casino incidents