Posted on: August 24, 2023, 01:35h.
Last updated on: August 23, 2023, 12:19h.
Gaming taxes generated by the MGM Springfield will be used to fund a study on impaired driving and whether Massachusetts casinos have led to increased rates of DUIs.
Search for casino DUI news and you’ll find numerous stories about gamblers being arrested for driving under the influence. Here at Casino.org, our crime reporter, Ed Silverstein, consistently covers the criminal activities of impaired drivers leaving casinos.
In 2021, Christopher Bruce, a crime analysis consultant with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), discovered a correlation between the state’s commercial casinos and increased arrests and crashes due to operating under the influence (OUI).
With thousands of patrons being served alcohol and arriving by car, it’s impossible for casinos and the police to prevent all intoxicated individuals from driving,” said Bruce.
Bruce emphasized that his report doesn’t assign blame, but aims to develop policies to ensure safe driving. He also pointed out that since Massachusetts casinos can serve alcohol until 4 a.m., two hours later than bars and restaurants, they are often cited as the “last drink” location in DUI-related incidents.
Nearly two years after Bruce’s study, officials in Springfield have called for an updated investigation specifically focused on how MGM’s $960 million casino resort has impacted DUI cases.
Springfield recently requested a grant from the MGC to fund the study. The state gaming regulator approved the allocation of $191,200 to conduct the qualitative review.
Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris explained, “While the grant is for the city of Springfield, we recognize that individuals who gamble at MGM come from surrounding towns and even out of state.”
Both MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, as Category 1 Resort-Casino properties, contribute 25% of their gaming revenue as taxes to the state. The MGC sets aside 6.5% of that money for its Community Mitigation Fund.
The MGC’s Community Mitigation Fund uses gaming tax revenue to provide grants for local projects and research in the state’s casino host cities and surrounding communities.
MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein stated, “The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is proud to continue supporting our local communities through the Community Mitigation Fund program as they strive to address road safety, public safety training, job readiness, and tourism marketing needs.”
The research will not only include statistics on casino-related DUI incidents, but the primary focus will be on developing mitigation and intervention strategies. Educational and outreach programs are also anticipated.
The study will be conducted by the city’s Health and Human Services Department in collaboration with the New North Citizens’ Council, a Springfield-based nonprofit organization that advocates for and provides public and human services to Hampden County residents.