A new study finds that rural counties that experience the construction of new casinos will likely see an increase in the number of alcohol-related fatal traffic accidents.

The study, published by two economics professors in the latest issue of the Journal of Health Economics, is the first of its kind to examine the impact of casinos and drunk driving rates. The study estimates that rural counties will likely see a 9.2 percent increase in the number of fatal drunk driving accidents following the introduction of a gambling casino. The rate is not as high for more populated, urban areas due to a number of factors, including availability of mass transit and fewer miles that casino patrons have to travel, the study found.

The study looked at areas that introduced casinos over a 10-year period and contrasted that with the number of fatal drunk driving accidents.

The results indicate that there is a strong link between the presence of a casino in a county and the number of alcohol-related fatal traffic accidents, the study concluded.

Casinos No!, a political action committee opposed to a ballot measure that would allow a casino in Oxford County, issued a press release today about the study.