Franklin County Casino May Lead to More Tourist Arrests

Casinos often get a bad rap about crime. People think of "The Godfather" and other mob movies, and think casinos are all run by organized crime families, even though most of them are run by huge corporations. Even worse, some people think that casinos are magnets for crime -- that they draw people who will commit crimes.

In reality, casinos are likely to increase arrests in the area surrounding them, but not because casino visitors are particularly crime-prone. Casinos are not crime magnets, but they are tourist magnets. Whenever large amounts of people flock to a destination, there will be arrests. The opening of Ohio's largest casino in Franklin County, Hollywood Casino Columbus, is bearing that out. In the six weeks since the casino opened, authorities report about a 25 percent increase in the number of arrests in the area surrounding the casino over the same time period in 2011.

The largest increase has been assaults, from 43 reports in 2011 to 126 this year. It's not clear how many of those reports are related to the new casino, since assault reports were already on the rise. However, it is likely that the large number of people flocking to the site contributed to the increase. When people get in crowded situations, particularly at tourist spots that feature alcohol, there's a propensity toward fighting and claims of unwanted touching, which lead to assault charges.

There are other charges that are likely to be associated with having a destination that draws in significant crowds. With the number of cars driving toward the casino, there are likely to be more traffic incidents, including hit and runs. With the number of people leaving after visiting the casino bar, there is bound to be an increase in charges of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OVI).

For those accused, many will face an additional issue on top of the charges -- that they are from out of town, and, often, from out of state. Having the largest casino in the state is sure to draw people from miles around, including many from nearby states. Sometimes, when people are arrested in another state, they hope they can leave the problem behind after they make bond and get out of jail. But ignoring charges and skipping court dates can have greater consequences. At worst, it could lead to extradition back to Columbus. Even minor charges, though, can lead to open warrants that can show up on background searches. Ignoring an OVI could mean that your license gets suspended or revoked in your state.

Visitors who face charges can hire a Columbus lawyer for out of state visitors to handle the charges back here. They may be able to let their attorney represent them during some of the proceedings, eliminating the need for trips back and forth.

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