15.03.2012

Criminological Risks of Gambling Halls


As is generally known, private casinos and commercial gambling halls are not to be confused.  The 66-page study "Gambling halls. Criminological risks and side effects of an expanding industry" ('Spielhallen. Kriminologische Risiken und Nebenwirkungen eines expandierenden Gewerbes') by Prof. Thomas Feltes (University of Bochum), published in 2011, was prompted by the substantial rise of crime within the environment of gambling halls (and therein particularly the robberies of gambling halls) and investigates the issue of a possible correlation between gambling halls and crime, as well as the question if gambling halls do in fact breed crime or if they are a fuelling factor (page 3). Prof. Feltes describes the following facts as undisputed (page 29): 
  • Criminality associated with gambling halls exists.
  • The opening of a gambling hall entails associated criminality.
  • The accumulation of gambling halls brings about an increase and a concentration of crime.
In the context of robberies, Feltes quotes the press release of the Federal Association of Private Casinos in Germany (Bundesverband privater Spielbanken in Deutschland e.V. – BupriS) from February15, 2010 on the subject of the dramatic rise in robberies of gambling halls (‘Tatort Spielhalle – Dramatische Zunahme von Raubüberfällen auf Spielhallen’, page 29). Between 2005 and 2010, the number of robberies registered in the police crime statistic (‘Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik’, PKS) has increased by 206 percent.

Feltes also addresses the subject of money laundering. According to police reports evaluated by Feltes, the Berlin area hosts a great number of gambling halls with little customer traffic, which raises the considerable suspicion that their whole purpose is money laundering (page 32).

In his summarizing evaluation, Prof. Feltes states that the establishment and operation of a gambling hall in many cases entails a localized intensification of a hitherto low or average crime rate and can cause a cascade effect (page 43). The presumption of a correlation between gambling halls and associated criminality corresponds with reports by police stations and by gambling hall operators (!) that the security issue in connection with gambling halls and within their environment currently aggravates, in spite of the efforts to tighten security and intensify prevention (page 46). According to Feltes, gambling halls have, for a variety of reasons, developed into important hangouts for young people and therefore into a new subculture. If, from a criminological point of view, the visitation of gambling halls is a crime-encouraging leisure activity, the communes and the federal states have to react accordingly (page 47). Feltes’ study ends with the recommendation that the police on state and federal level should advocate a further regulation of gambling halls. The first approaches by the IMK in 2010 do not suffice (page 48).

The study was published as the first volume of the series "Working papers in the field of criminology and police science of the University of Bochum" ('Kriminologisch-polizeiwissenschaftliche Arbeitspapiere der Ruhr-Universität Bochum') (http://goo.gl/OzYwD).