Gambling addiction statistics in the United States are collected by multiple agencies, such as addiction prevention councils. Wallethub released a set of statistics that compared several measures to rate each state according to its gambling addiction. 

Gambling addiction statistics show that the top gambling-addicted states in 2019 are:

  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Montana
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • West Virginia
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana

These state ranked highest in the country for most casinos per capita and highest lottery sales per capita. Some of this data can be helpful in understanding correlating addiction statistics or crime rates for gambling-related activities. 

According to the American Gaming Association, revenue from commercial gaming exceeded 40 billion dollars in 2017. Gambling is legal under federal law. In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a law from 1992 that prohibited sports gambling. Each state regulates gambling differently, typically having independence in the following legislative standards:

  • Gambling age
  • Legality of gambling
  • Laws regarding casinos
  • Laws regarding sports betting

Each state also has state-sponsored and non-profit agencies that provide help and support for gambling addiction. Gambling is a complex issue with many contributing factors. Gambling addiction is treatable and can be overcome with the right recovery services. Here are the top 10 most gambling-addiction states and the specific issues in each area.

1. Nevada

Thinking of gambling in Nevada may feel as natural as thinking of skyscrapers in New York City. Nevada gambling laws regulate casinos, online gambling, card games and other recreational gambling experiences. Enforcement is understandably strong with urban populations that enjoy easy access to many forms of gambling. 

Nevada was the first state to legalize gambling. Recreational gambling in Nevada is regulated by the Nevada Gaming Commission and State Gaming Control Board. These agencies provide standards for how gambling-related entertainment can be offered to residents and visitors. 

In Nevada, the gambling age is 21, which is higher than some states. In Nevada, lottery tickets are illegal. Residents have to travel across state lines to play the lottery. Based on a study conducted by the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Las Vegas, total revenue for gambling in downtown Las Vegas increased by 11.54% between 2008 and 2018. The Nevada Gaming Control Board Gaming Commission provides monthly Gaming Revenue Reports. It is evident that the state benefits significantly from the taxes and other income generated from gambling.

There are also many opportunities for people in Nevada who face gambling addiction to seek help and treatment. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has advisory committees that promote various initiatives in communities throughout the state for gambling addiction prevention and treatment. Multiple independent addiction recovery centers and counselors specialize in gambling addiction treatment. 

2. South Dakota

Gambling in South Dakota is a tourist attraction. The Gold Rush-era town of Deadwood has been transformed into a gambling-themed vacation destination. South Dakota gambling laws allow casino games, poker, bingo and sports betting. The gambling age in South Dakota is 21 years old, but 18-year-olds are allowed to participate in bets on horse races.

Casinos are allowed on Indian reservations, of which there are nine in South Dakota. According to the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, over 100 million dollars in revenue was generated by gambling in 2016. This level of income can be a deterrent to limiting access or participation in gambling. 

As the second highest state for gambling, South Dakotans also struggle with gambling addiction. The South Dakota Department of Social Services works with local agencies to promote mental health awareness and wellness. Their programs include prevention and treatment programs for gambling addiction

3. Montana

Montana is the third-highest ranking state in the country for gambling addiction. Since 1989, gambling in Montana has been regulated by the Department of Justice. The Montana Department of Justice provides regulations over gambling that include:

  • Video games
  • Live card games
  • Live bingo
  • Sports games
  • Casino nights
  • Raffles
  • Dice games
  • Fantasy sports games
  • Fishing and natural betting

The gambling age in Montana is 18 years old. Montana is one of very few states to have a gambling age this low. Montana gambling laws place protections and guidelines on all of the games mentioned above as well as enforcement guidelines for illegal proceedings or fraudulent activities.

The Montana lottery is run by the government but is part of a multi-state association. The Department of Justice, in addition to its oversight of gaming, uses multiple outlets to provide resources and treatment opportunities for citizens who struggle with gambling addiction. In 2019, March was Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Montana. This event was aimed at shedding light on the many people in the state who struggle with gambling problems or addiction. The Gambling Control Division of the Department of Justice is instrumental in these and other resources in communities throughout the state of Montana.

4. Mississippi

In August of 2018, Mississippi sports gambling became legal. This legalization was made possible by Supreme Court actions and the repeal of a former bill. Legalizing sports gambling allows residents of Mississippi to make wagers in casinos or satellite facilities. Online gambling in Mississippi is legal. Betting online can be an ongoing connection to gambling. Easy access to gambling through the internet may promote addictive behaviors.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission publishes monthly reports to publicly declare earnings related to gambling. In 2018, casino revenue for the state was over two billion dollars. The Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association details the ways that the taxes earned from gaming revenues (over 927 million dollars in 2018) are spent:

  • Schools
  • Transportation
  • Public health and safety
  • Housing
  • Counseling and mental health services

The prevalence of gambling in Mississippi also necessitates prevention and treatment services for gambling addiction. The Mississippi Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling provides training programs, studies and youth awareness programs to resist the growth of gambling addiction issues in Mississippi

5. Oklahoma

Gambling in Oklahoma is prevalent in tribal casinos. These casinos pay significant fees for exclusivity to the state of Oklahoma. Revenue generated from these fees go toward general funds, the Department of Mental Health, education and substance abuse programs. Oklahoma gambling casinos are some of the largest and most visited in the nation. Oklahoma also has an array of gambling in:

  • Horse racing
  • Dog racing
  • Card games
  • Sports betting
  • Racinos (combines racetrack and casino)

Oklahoma gambling laws changed in 2018 to legalize sports betting. This move was largely motivated by the internet and mobile betting popularity. The federal government will likely receive at least 25 cents of every wager in taxes, in addition to state and other taxes. 

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is largely responsible for meaningful resources and recovery solutions for residents with gambling addiction issues.

6. West Virginia

West Virginia gambling grew with the legalization of sports betting. West Virginia gambling laws now allow access to betting through online and mobile sources. Websites and mobile applications have quickly come onto the market to serve consumers in West Virginia who want to bet online. Restrictions on developers and administrators include no wagering on high school events. The law passed in spite of the governor, Jim Justice, refusing to sign the bill

The legal gambling age in West Virginia is 18 for racing, bingo games and the lottery. For casino gambling and other lotteries, citizens must be 21 years old.

There are seven casinos in West Virginia that offer a variety of games and gaming machines. In 2017, the state of West Virginia made over 600 million dollars in gaming revenues. These funds are made from a variety of games that include:

  • Video lottery
  • Resort casinos
  • Racetrack casinos 
  • Lottery

Dog racing is still legal and active in West Virginia. Several groups advocate for gambling addiction awareness, treatment and recovery. A prominent advocacy group is the Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia. The West Virginia Legislature also requires a Compulsive Gambling Treatment Fund, which is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Resources.

7. New Jersey

New Jersey gambling is a state tradition, dating back to 1969 when it was the first state to use lottery proceeds to fund education. The New Jersey lottery has successfully contributed heavily to education over the years. Casino gambling in New Jersey is prevalent in Atlantic City, where gaming is a tourist attraction.

New Jersey gambling laws are specific when it comes to casino games. In 2013, a previously rejected bill became law and allowed online casino gambling. People must be 21 years old to gamble online or at physical casinos. The age restriction lowers to 18 years old for the lottery or to bet on horse and dog races. In New Jersey, the tax laws mean that the state receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from gaming revenue.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission provides resources for problem gambling that include education and treatment. Gambling can lead to chronic addiction, which requires treatment and recovery.

8. Oregon

Gambling in Oregon is an accessible and varied experience. Gambling opportunities include:

  • Horse racing
  • Sports
  • Fantasy sports
  • Bingo
  • Card games
  • Lottery
  • Video lottery
  • Casinos

In most cases, the gambling age in Oregon is 21 years old, although the Oregon lottery is available to 18-year-olds. There are at least 25 casinos in Oregon, many of which are tribal casinos and some of which are resorts.

Oregon problem gambling is addressed by the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling. This council explains that, in 2016, 5.8 million dollars were spent in the state of Oregon for services related to problem gambling. The Oregon Health Authority provides online, texting, messaging and other immediate response resources for people who have gambling addiction issues.

9. Illinois

Illinois gambling laws are posted publicly on the internet. Gambling in Illinois is limited to standards, licenses and procedural guidelines. Casinos in Illinois are also subject to specific laws and governance.

As one of the top 10 gambling states in the United States, residents of Illinois have significant access to gambling. Illinois gambling expansion has included the proposal to legalize Illinois sports gambling. Sports gambling, new casinos (including in Chicago), horse racing and racinos and a number of other gambling outlets will provide gamers with even more outlets.

The Illinois Council on Problem Gambling, Illinois Gaming Board and Illinois Alliance on Problem Gamblingare just some of the groups that provide education and treatment resources for people in Illinois who struggle with gambling addiction. As the industry grows, these groups have even more opportunities to meet the needs of people who develop gambling addiction.

10. Louisiana

Gambling in Louisiana for land-based casinos generated over 26 million dollars in a single month in 2019. Louisiana gambling laws extend to a variety of games and gambling environments, including:

  • Riverboat casinos
  • Racetracks
  • Horse racing
  • Tribal casinos

The gambling age in Louisiana is 21 years old. Video poker machines, which are restricted to people who meet or exceed the gambling age, are prevalent in restaurants, bars, truck stops and even restaurants. As of 2019, online gambling is illegal in the state of Louisiana

For residents of Louisiana who struggle with gambling, there are many helpful resources. The Louisiana State Police DepartmentLouisiana Office of Behavioral Health and other gaming addiction resources are widely available. State and local initiatives, education, prevention and treatment services are prevalent to provide help for people who need gambling addiction recovery. 

If you or someone you know has a drug or alcohol addiction and a gambling problem, don’t wait to get help. The Recovery Village offers comprehensive addiction treatment and mental health counseling for co-occurring mental health disorders. Call today to learn more about treatment.

Joy Youell
By – Joy Youell
Joy Youell is a writer and content developer with a background in educational research. Using sound pedagogical approaches and expert-backed methods, Joy has designed and delivered adult learning content, professional development, and company training materials for organizations. Read more

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