On May 3rd, at around 2 am CDT, the Iowa State Patrol force received a 9-1-1 call. According to the police reports, a man was shot just outside the Ameristar Casino Hotel, in Council Bluffs, and had sustained serious injuries from the stomach wound. Police have yet to disclose the identity of the victim but have shared that he has remained uncooperative. This marks one of two violent shootings that have taken place at American casinos over the course of one weekend and has prompted residents to ask questions about the relationship between casino venues, gambling, crime statistics and criminal activities.
The Ameristar shooting took place at approximately 2 am on the 3rd of May in the parking lot of the Ameristar Casino Hotel. The gambling venue is operated by Penn National Gaming and features 160 luxury hotel rooms, 20 table games, sports betting facilities and is home to around 1,500 slot gaming machines.
The victim, whose identity has yet to be disclosed, was shot in the abdomen and was found in the parking area. The police received a 9-1-1 call and proceeded to rush to the scene and escorted the victim to a hospital. While the man is expected to survive the mysterious attack, there is little doubt that he was seriously injured. Unfortunately, the victim has refused to assist law enforcement with the investigation. The police have revealed that a dark-coloured SUV approached the victim, who was walking in the Ameristar Casino Hotel’s parking lot. One of the suspects in the car rolled down the window and shot the man. Law enforcement has appealed to the public to contact them regarding any information they have that could be helpful to the case.
The Ameristar shooting was just one of two incidents that took place at a casino venue in the US over that particular weekend. The Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, adjacent to the Oneida Casino, in Green Bay Wisconsin was the location of a violent shooting. Two fatalities have been reported and the third victim is considered to be in a stable but still serious condition. The tribal casino, operated by the Oneida Nation, is not the crime scene but has still been affected by the events. However, the Wisconsin incident has yielded a grizzly end for the perpetrator. Police identified the shooter as 62 year old Bruce K. Pofahl. Pofahl is a former employee of the Duck Creek Kitchen and + Bar who was retrenched last year. The assailant entered the restaurant venue and opened fire on employees with a handgun. This incident resulted in the deaths of two employees, Ian Simpson, 32, and Jacob Bartel, 35. The third victim, Daniel Mulligan, 28, is the lone survivor of the attack.
Law enforcement agencies from Brown Country responded to the distress call and were forced to open fire on the Pofahl, resulting in his death. Considering the proximity of the attack, the Oneida Casino’s gaming floor has been closed while law enforcement investigates the incident.
While casino gambling and gaming is considered to be a lucrative industry that yields millions in state tax revenue, residents have expressed their concerns regarding these recent events. Those who have opposed the legalisation of gambling in their respective states have claimed that casinos lead to increased crime rates for several years now but data, collected through numerous studies, have yet to make this connection.
An example of one of these studies took place in 2003 at the University of Nevada. Researchers and professors identified six new gambling communities and another six non-gaming regions as a control. Data was collected from all 12 regions in the US. A former chair of Nevada University’s Department of Criminal Justice, Grant Stitt, reported the group’s findings. The study hypothesised that casino communities would see an increase in criminal activities due to the belief that casinos provide the perfect conditions for crimes to take place. However, the analysis provided few consistent findings across the control and test communities. Crime rates did increase in a few casino communities, while others showed minimal change in criminal activities and even decreases in other regions. The conclusion of the study was that crime and casinos are not directly linked but the introduction of such a venue can sometimes become of the many variables that have yet to be fully understood.