When a small Richmond, B.C. casino expanded to become River Rock…

Here’s what happened when Richmond, B.C.’s small Bridgeport Casino expanded to become the River Rock Casino. Vancouver Sun, October 25, 2007. Also see “Richmond sees rash of casino-related crime” on canada.com.

Casino a crime magnet: RCMP

The opening of River Rock Casino in Richmond has led to a quadrupling of casino-related crime and allowed new organized crime groups to gain a foothold in the city, according to an internal RCMP report obtained by The

… River Rock opened in June 2004, replacing a smaller casino run by Great Canadian on Bridgeport Road in Richmond. The report found no evidence that River Rock has increased criminal activity in the 500-metre radius around the facility. But calls for service at the casino itself were up sharply.

In the first six months of 2003, according to the report, the RCMP received 32 calls for service from the Bridgeport casino. In comparison, during the first six months of 2006, the Mounties received 137 calls from River Rock — a four-fold increase.

Those calls included:

— 20 cases of impaired driving; 10 cases of disturbing the peace;

— Seven cases of uttering threats;

— Six cases of fraud;

— Six cases of assault;

— Three cases of cocaine possession.

Blank said it’s not fair to compare the two casinos, because River Rock is a full-service resort — with a hotel and theatre — whereas Bridgeport was only a gambling venue. He said River Rock gets about 15,000 visitors a day, compared to 1,000 at the old casino.

At a news conference in August, Richmond RCMP Supt. Ward Clapham said his detachment was struggling to keep up with crime at River Rock. Clapham said three of five kidnappings in Richmond this year have involved possible gambling-related extortion and two of the 11 kidnappings in 2005 were gambling-related. There have also been at least two suicides in Richmond related to gambling debts, he said.

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