Text of letter Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards wrote to Mayor Tom Henry. Â According to the, the letter, dated March 24, 2009, was hand delivered to the Mayor’s Office by a staff member.
Dear Mayor Henry:
In the continuing discussion regarding bringing gambling to downtown Fort Wayne, I wanted to share with you some information that I have received from other prosecutors around the state about their local experiences with gambling.
I have spoken with both prosecutors from larger communities and prosecutors from more rural communities. Those communities that are larger, which already have quite a bit of crime, like Gary and LaPorte, do not seem to have had too much negative effect of bringing casinos or riverboat gambling to their communities. That may be because there was already prostitution, drugs, drunk driving, etcetera, in the community, and any increase cannot necessarily be linked to the casino. However, what they do notice is an increased need to patrol both the parking and adjacent areas for child neglect cases, where people leave their children unattended in vehicles, also patrolling for public intoxication and drunk driving.
My greatest concern, however, is with the smaller communities in southern Indiana, who have experienced an extremely negative effect from bringing riverboat and casino gambling to their communities. In Ohio and Dearborn County, crime has escalated to the point that they have had to add an additional court to their county court system, and their jail has now become extremely overcrowded. The statistics that they have provided is that their misdemeanor caseload has grown by 200% since the riverboats came to town, and their felony caseload has tripled. They are also concerned because gambling has brought a dangerous criminal element to their community. The second largest Oxycontin dealer in Kentucky is regularly transacting in their casino, and again the issue with children being unattended in the parking lot. They have had an increase in identity theft, counterfeiting, forgery, and fraud cases. They also now have a large massage parlor industry and prostitution has been attracted to the area because of the riverboat gambling. This is of concern as we have pretty much eradicated massage parlor prostitution from our community and I would certainly hate to see the resurgence of that criminal element here in Fort Wayne.
The prosecutor in Ohio and Dearborn County also warns that the economic development that was promised with the casinos has never really happened in that community. People spend their money at the casino and very little money is generated outside of the casino. That seems to be a similar issue with prosecutors in other communities as well. The only way the community shares in the wealth of gambling is through whatever development agreement is entered into with the gambling establishment. I know that you have commissioned studies on this issue, and I have no idea how they have dealt with the increase in crime from casino gambling.
The other issue that becomes apparent is that if the gambling establishment here contracts or has a development agreement with the city, the cost of crime mostly falls upon the county, as the county maintains the jail, the court system, prosecutors, etcetera, and one of the largest economic negatives to the southern counties has been the increase in crime, which the county has been unable to pay for through any share of income from the development agreement with the individual cities.
If you have any questions with regard to the above, I am sure that other local prosecutors would be willing to speak with you, and I would be willing to discuss these issues with you if you believe that would be helpful. Thank you for your time.
Karen E. Richards