Is Violent Crime on the Rise in the US’s Largest Gambling Hubs?

  • In Las Vegas, 1.9% of tourist deaths in 2022 were caused by homicide
  • Total crime in Nevada state increased to 14,498 incidents in 2022
  • Annual violent crime rates are double the US average in Atlantic City
  • Atlantic City County Prosecutor said crime is “about the same” y-o-y 
Nevada police
Is violent crime actually on the rise in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, or is it a myth perpetuated by the media? [Image:]

Fraud, theft, and murder

If you like to keep abreast of gambling news, it’s likely that you’ve heard of some casino-related crime recently. In fact, VegasSlotsOnline News has a Crime category in which you will find countless tales of fraud, theft, and even murder taking place in gambling venues across the world.

In Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the US’s two largest gambling hubs, violence is an ever-present danger. In just the past few weeks, for instance, a Las Vegas police officer has gone to trial for supposedly robbing three casinos at gunpoint, while a man who stabbed his girlfriend inside an Atlantic City casino was recently sentenced to 17 years in prison.

it is easy to assume that violent crime is on the rise

With these types of news stories so common, it is easy to assume that violent crime is on the rise in these locations. But how much truth would there actually be in that assumption? VSO News has taken a look through the data to get to the bottom of the issue once and for all.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the home of gambling in the US and has been now for around 100 years. Due to the region’s substantial reliance on tourism, the amount of violent crime in the region is even more important than in other areas of the US. In 2022 for instance, Las Vegas was visited by 38.8 million people – almost the same figure as the population of neighboring California.

In 2022, former President Donald Trump labeled Nevada a “cesspool of crime” while launching a scathing attack on Governor Joe Lombardo. Trump claimed that Lombardo was letting the situation get out of hand by going too easy on criminals.

Luckily for us, the Clark County Coroner’s Office has provided some very useful stats in regard to the actual dangers posed to tourists in Las Vegas. There were 1,928 total visitor deaths in Las Vegas in 2022 and 1,487 (77%) of those were from natural causes. A further 344 (18%) died of accidents and 51 (2.6%) died of suicide.

total murders (including residents as well) were down 7.6%

The remaining number, in this case 36 people, died from homicide. That represents 1.9% of total deaths. Notably, that is an increase on 2021 figures in which 27 tourists died by murder, but that year also saw fewer actual visitors at 32 million. In 2022, total murders (including residents as well) were down 7.6% year-on-year to 146.

What about general crime? After all, we can’t just focus on the morbid stuff. Well, in 2022 that actually increased from the prior year to 14,498 crime incidents in Nevada as a whole. But, importantly, that figure is 15% lower than the total from 2018. It also represents the second-lowest figure in the past five years – 2021 being the lowest.

With all this in mind, it would be difficult to argue that violent crime (or any crime for that matter) is on the rise in Las Vegas. Crime data does not indicate any statewide increase in Nevada crime instances, instead, the state is trending closer toward the national average.

Atlantic City

In the US, Atlantic City is second only to Las Vegas in the gambling hub rankings. The city had 27 million visitors in 2022, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. A recent survey also demonstrated the gambling-focused reasons for those visits, with 42% of responding tourists indicating that their main reason for visiting was to gamble, followed by vacation/pleasure at 35%.

The region also has its crime issues though. Average annual violent crime rates are about 8.03 per 1,000 residents in Atlantic City. In the last reported data, the US violent crime rate was 395.7 cases per 100,000 of the population, or around 4 cases per 1,000. This means the violent crime rate of Atlantic City is more than double the national average.

The highest murder tally actually came in 2012, with 19 homicides

The good news for Atlantic City residents and tourists, however, is that this rate doesn’t seem to be increasing – quite the contrary. Last year brought seven homicides in Atlantic City compared to 14 in 2021. Police solved 100% of those homicide cases last year. It’s also the same number of murders as 2007 and among the lowest years on record. The highest murder tally actually came in 2012, with 19 homicides.

That said, violent crime is still way above the national average. WPG Talk Radio spoke to Atlantic County Prosecutor Will Reynolds at the end of 2022 to get his take on this issue. He described violent crime as “stagnant and about the same” year-on-year in the New Jersey gambling hub. Despite this, the city has launched a Violent Crime Initiative in the hope of cracking down on cases even further and perhaps getting nearer the national average.

Much like with Las Vegas, it appears many have overestimated the escalating nature of Atlantic City’s violent crime problem. While tourists visiting these two gambling hubs may not be able to assume that they are completely safe, they can at least rest easy that it has been just as dangerous to visit for several years – not the best slogan for a tourism ad, admittedly.

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