Police say a fight in a Schenectady casino was due to an argument about how many people would participate in a planned sexual tryst. Three people planned a clandestine meeting, but a fight erupted when one of those three people hoped to include a fourth person, according to a Schenectady city police spokesman.
Sgt. Matthew Dearing, speaking on behalf of the SPD, said that three people had plans to meet at the newly-opened Rivers Casino & Resort when a physical altercation erupted. Elizabeth Araiza, a 49-year old resident from North Adams, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of govermental administration.
Unnamed Woman Fought with Elizabeth Araiza
Araiza’s husband, 62-year old Dimitri Houff, also was charged with disorderly conduct. An unnamed 21-year old Troy woman was charged with disorderly conduct in the same incident.
Police reports on the incident did not make clear who made the initial approach for the tryst. The report also did not make clear whom the suggested fourth person might be.
Violent and Threatening Behavior
Sgt. Dearing’s report stated that the Troy woman engaged in “violent and threatening” behavior in the bar area of Duke’s Steakhouse. Apparently, she threw a beverage glass during the altercation with Elizabeth Araiza.
When the police arrived, Araiza continued fighting. She later refused to comply with police commands, leading to further charges. After she was handcuffed and told to stay on the ground, she got up and continued to act violently.
Dimitri Houff Arrested for Harrassing Police
Dimitri Houff was not arrested in the original altercation, but stood by the side and verbally berated officers during the arrest. Police documents claims that Houff “interfered with officers by refusing to comply with verbal commands to leave the area and standing in their way as they were attempting to escort his wife who had been arrested out of the casino.”
Rivers Casino & Resort is a $330 million complex which had its grand opening on February 8. The altercation between the three people was the first notable police incident since the opening of the casino a week earlier.
Do Casinos Lead to Higher Crime Rates?
Anti-gambling activists claim that casinos attract crime, though proponents of expanded casino gambling dispute those claims. Studies by either side tend to support both claims, though violent crimes are cited less often than scams and theft. Prositution and drug crimes are cited as problem areas.
For instance, the Washington Post ran a story in December 2012 called “Studies: Casinos bring jobs, but also crime, bankruptcy, and even suicide“, which painted a bleak picture of the problems brick-and-mortar casinos bring to an area.
Higher Bankrupty Rates and Gambling Addiction
The Post story cited reports from Earl Grinol of Baylor, Cynthia Dilley of the University of Illinois, and David Mustard of the University of Georgia which suggested that 8% of all crime in an area with a casino is related to that casino. According to the three, those crimes cost everyone in the area $65 a year on average.
The same article noted The St. Louis Fed’s Thomas Garrett and Mark Nichols, who claimed bankruptcies went up in counties that had a casino located in them. Garrett and Nichols noted that adjacent counties also saw a higher incidence of bankruptcies. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission said that living within 50 miles of a land casino doubled the chances someone would have problem gambling issues.
Evidence against Higher Crime Rates
A report in PS Magazine citing researchers from Drexel University and Temple University contradicted at least some of those charges. The report, compiled by Jerry H. Ratcliffe of Temple University and Lallen T. Johnson of Drexel University, said that casinos “had no significant effect on violent street felonies, vehicle crime, drug crime or residential burglary in the surrounding community.”
While the Ratcliffe-Johnson report did not discuss bankruptcies and gambling addiction, it suggested that hard crime is not impacted significantly by a casino’s existence. In the case of Elizabeth Araiza, Dimitri Houff, and the 21-year old woman, their strange liaison likely would have occurred elsewhere, had Rivers Casino & Resort not existed at all.
Whatever the case, the latest violent incident at the bar inside the Rivers Casino likely will be cited by New York state anti-gambling activitists in the near future. Such unseemly incidents fit convincingly in the image of casinos as a place of sin and moral corruption, whether that is true or not.