What States Are the Most Addicted to Gambling?

  • Gamblers in the US lose over $100bn annually
  • WalletHub did a study of each state, ranking levels of gambling addiction
  • The study is based on gambling friendliness and the levels of gambling addiction and treatment
  • Nevada, unsurprisingly, was at the top of the rankings
Man dejected over losing on slot machine
WalletHub has done a study of gambling addiction in all 50 US states.

Background to Addiction Study

Every US state has some form of gambling. Many of them are very conservative about gambling, but there are always people who find a way around the law.

There are different types of gamblers. Some are social or recreational gamblers who might purchase a lottery ticket on occasion or make an occasional visit to a casino or compete in a fantasy sports league. However, they can stop gambling whenever they want to and will not suffer significant losses.

However, when people lose control, gambling becomes a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Research from the Mayo Clinic has shown: “Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction.”

People in the US lose more than $100bn (£77.6bn) a year on gambling. Among gambling addicts, males will on average have debts ranging from $55,000 to $90,000 and females will have debts of $15,000.

Faced with debt, these people chase their losses and end up in even deeper holes. This can lead to strains on relationships, crime, and health problems.

The problem is worse in certain regions of the country. This is why WalletHub conducted a report looking at gambling activity in each of the 50 states. The study used 20 major metrics.

What Are These Metrics?

WalletHub used two main dimensions to assess the prevalence of gambling addiction in the 50 states: the extent of gambling problems and treatment and a gambling friendliness measure.

A weighted average was then applied to derive a final figure for each state.

Here is a list of the metrics that the report uses, each of which was assigned its own weight:

Gambling Friendliness

  • Gaming machines for every 1,000 residents
  • Tribal and commercial casinos per capita
  • iGaming revenues per capita
  • Stake Limits gaming revenue per capita
  • Lottery sales per capita
  • Commercial casino revenue per capita
  • Presence of convenience and retail gaming
  • Presence of black market gambling operations
  • Daily fantasy sports legality
  • Sports betting legality
  • Horse racing gambling legality
  • “Gambling” Google search interest index

Gambling Problems and Treatment

  • Portion of the adult population (18 years old or older) with gambling issues
  • Gambling addiction counselors per capita
  • Number of meeting for Gambling Anonymous per capita
  • Presence of NCPG affiliation
  • Worker training for problem gambling issues
  • Presence of treatment programs for gambling addiction
  • State self-exclusion statute
  • Arrests relating to gambling per capita

What Were the results?

The results make for some interesting reading. The state most addicted to gambling is Nevada.

This probably will not come as a surprise because Las Vegas is the major destination for gambling in the country. In fact, it is behind only Macau as the world’s top gambling destination.

Behind Nevada are South Dakota, Montana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and New Jersey.

Utah is the state that is least addicted to gambling, followed by Florida, Alaska, Nebraska, Alabama, and Arizona.

Hawaii is number two on the gambling addiction and treatment ranks but 47th in gambling friendliness. Mississippi is at the top of the gambling problem and treatment rank.

The states with the most gambling-related arrests per capita are Mississippi, Hawaii, and Illinois, all tied for number one. Minnesota and Mississippi had the highest percentage of adults with gambling disorders.

The report makes for very interesting reading in its entirety. It will act as a good guide for individual states as to where they stand in the rankings and it can reveal areas where they need to make changes.