Sunday May 6, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- In November, Gov. Deval Patrick signed a human trafficking bill and a gambling bill within days of each other, prompting questions about whether the two were connected.

Patrick answered the questions with a stern "no," according to various news outlets.

Critics of the gambling legislation, which will allow casinos in the state, have said it will bring organized crime and increased prostitution to Massachusetts.

But state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, disagrees.

"I haven’t seen any connection," she said.

Farley-Bouvier is a proponent of the human trafficking legislation, which created several new categories of crimes, including sex trafficking. She also serves on the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and has spoken publicly about trafficking.

Farley-Bouvier is a proponent of the human trafficking legislation, which created several new categories of crimes, including sex trafficking. She also serves on the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities and has spoken publicly about trafficking.

Whether casinos will bring more vice, including prostitution, into the communities in which they are built remains unknown. A 2004 study on the effects of crime in those areas says there is an increase, while a February 2012 Associated Press report about casinos in Connecticut seems to show the opposite.

The in-depth 2004 study -- "Casinos, Crime & Community Costs" by economics professors Earl Grinols of Baylor University and David Mustard of the University of Georgia -- looked at the relationship between crime and casinos using county-level crime data from 1977 to 1996 in areas where casinos were built.

The study found there was an 8 percent increase in crime in counties with casinos compared to those without.

Additionally, the report states there often is "casino-generated growth in adult entertainment, escort services and related industries."

The 2012 Associated Press report, which examined crime statistics in Connecticut since the arrival of casinos in 1992, states that prostitution arrests were "rare" and that there was "little evidence" of organized crime in the communities where casinos are located.

According to that report, the Mohegan Sun had no prostitution arrests inside the casino from 2003 to 2008, while Foxwoods had two. The towns that host the casinos -- Montville and Ledyard, respectively, had no prostitution arrests.

In Massachusetts, it likely will take three to five years before a casino is operating, although the selection of a slots parlor could come sooner.

The state has established a Gaming Commission, and it met last month for the first time. The commission will be responsible for licensing and overseeing up to three resort-style casinos and one slots parlor in the commonwealth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.