States Profiting the Most From Sin

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Smoking, drinking alcohol, and gambling are all — when done in excess — widely recognized as bad for your health. Yet millions of people enjoy such vices on a daily basis in the United States. To encourage healthier lifestyles, cover the eventual social costs, or help generate revenue some states tax these behaviors. All told, so-called sin taxes across the 50 states amounted to $55.43 billion in 2015.

Varying state regulations largely account for the differences in the proportions of revenue from sin taxes. For example, some states have fewer sin revenue streams than others, as commercial casinos are only legal in about half of all states. Similarly, seven states do not have lotteries.

Overall, states’ revenue from lotteries totaled $21.36 billion in 2015, the most of any sin revenue. Smoking was the second largest sin revenue stream, as the 50 states collected $17.71 billion in tobacco taxes that year.

To determine the states profiting the most from sin, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the share of sin taxes out of total revenue for each state. Sin taxes are proceeds from lottery ticket sales, as well as taxes on casino gaming, beer and liquor, and tobacco.

Click here to see the states profiting the most from sin.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.