Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) study investigates the relationship between the increased use of Video Gaming Terminals and the rise in crime, in nearby areas. The study was conducted by a group of PhD students at the University of Illinois. It contends that the exclusive environment for Video Gaming Terminals in Illinois, where district authority controls whether VGTs are allowed or prohibited, results in a good case study.
During the study, students combined data from organisations that made use of VGTs in neighbouring areas, with crime level data. The outcome was “increased access to video gambling leads to a statistically significant rise in violent and property crimes”.
Video Gaming Terminals Study – the numbers
The group used a ‘difference-in-differences’ strategy and found “on average, being near at least one video gambling establishment is associated with a 7.5% and 6.7% increase in violent and property crime…The effects decrease as gambling access declines, becoming zero after moving three census block groups away, and remaining at zero after that”.
The study could potentially affect Pennsylvania, where the subjects of VGTs, online gambling and gaming expansion are under discussion.
VGTs argument in Pennsylvania
People in favour of VGTs state that they already exist across the state. But, legalising VGTs would mean an extension of what’s already available in independent organisations. Furthermore, legalisation of VGTs would increase the number of gamblers and money spent on VGTs. For these reasons, VGTs opponents believe that the outcome of the study would be replicated in PA.
House Republicans believe that Video Gaming Terminals should be included in any gambling package, but the Senate disagrees. However, both representatives have legalised online gambling. Regardless, VGTs threaten to derail iGaming regulation. On the flip side, the disappearance of the VGT issue would tacitly clear the way for online gambling and other gaming provisions.
The study was released ahead of the upcoming hearing in September and is sure to spark a debate among supporters and those opposed to the legalisation of VTGs.
Next up for online gambling in Pennsylvania?
The first thing on the agenda of the PA legislature hearing in September is the state budget. Gaming has remained in play in revenue packages to balance the budget, which is currently experiencing a shortfall.