Recent data from the Lincoln Police Department in the state of Nebraska revealed that a year into the opening of WarHorse Casino in southwest Lincoln, the first licensed casino in the state, the casino did not lead to a spike in criminal activity.
Prior to the legalization of gambling in Nebraska and the casino’s opening, multiple prominent figures in the state, along with state officials, had raised concerns that the authorization of gambling establishments would lead to increased crime rates in licensed casinos’ areas of operation. Among the biggest opponents to the legislation were former Governor Pete Ricketts, billionaire Warren Buffett, and Congressman Tom Osborne. Efforts to halt the laws from passing were unsuccessful, however, and it now seems that one of the biggest potential issues did not occur.
WarHorse Casino Was Linked to Fewer Instances of Crime Compared to Other Lincoln-based Public Establishments
Lincoln Police Captain Don Scheinost shared that each month, he received a printout of the calls for service his department had needed to address when it came to the WarHorse Casino in southwest Lincoln. To his amazement, the calls always proved to be lower than his expectations, with the figures not exceeding one report per every four or five days. He went on to praise the casino’s staff and management for cooperating with law enforcement.
Police have been called to the casino premises a total of 78 times between the establishment’s opening in 2022 and August 2023, with the majority of calls concerning trespassing or disturbance of peace. This is in stark contrast to how many times law enforcement needed to address issues at other locations within the same time period. A total of 1425 calls were made for the Bryan West Campus, for instance, while reports concerning a Lincoln-based Walmart also exceeded WarHorse Casino in terms of calls-326.
As a whole, an increase of around 1,000 can be observed when it comes to felony and misdemeanor citations in Lincoln, which were 15,463 in total. However, the data does not point to the casino having been the cause, given the call figures outlined thus far. Scheinost said that it was car theft and vehicle break-ins that proved the biggest problem for the police department, and that the casino was not giving them “any undue heartache.”
Lincoln and Nebraska Officials are Aiming to Address Potential Issues Ahead of WarHorse Casino’s Hotel Expansion
WarHorse Casino is currently undergoing constructions that will double the establishment’s size, and once complete, this expansion will be followed by the construction of a hotel. Although Scheinost’s statements regarding the WarHorse casino have been generally positive, he did not neglect to emphasize that illegal activities could see a spike with the casino’s hotel expansion.
This was also addressed by Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission (NRGC) officials. The expansion is one of the major reasons that commissioners were in a hurry to vote on a problem gambling committee and a committee on human trafficking when WarHorse Lincoln was given legal permission to operate.
The officials are aiming for a “proactive approach,” according to Casey Ricketts, Director of Compliance at the NRGC, and she also stated that they acknowledged the potential problems casinos could pose.
As a part of the prevention efforts, casinos in Nebraska must train their staff when it comes to the prevention of human trafficking. Casinos are also urged to place human trafficking awareness posters in their bathrooms, along with the number of the human trafficking hotline of Nebraska. The risk of human trafficking is also a key topic of monthly round tables that casino operators, problem gambling experts, Lincoln officials, Nebraska officials, and law enforcement take part in.