Special Report

States Spending the Most and Least on Gambling

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

5. New Jersey
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $972 per adult ($6.8 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $500 per adult ($3.5 billion total)
> Annual lottery spending: $473 per adult ($3.3 billion total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $349.8 million (0.9% of all tax revenue)

New Jersey was home to a total of nine commercial casinos — each located in Atlantic City — at the end of 2019. These establishments reported a combined revenue of $3.5 billion that year, a nearly 20% increase from the previous year, attributed mostly to growth in sports betting. Casino gambling brought in nearly $350 million in tax revenue in 2019.

The New Jersey state lottery nearly matched casino revenue in ticket sales in 2019. Garden State residents purchased $3.3 billion in lotto tickets in 2019. Combined casino and lotto spending in the state totalled $6.8 billion in 2019, or $972 per adult.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

4. Massachusetts
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $1,121 per adult ($6.2 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $130 per adult ($718.5 million total)
> Annual lottery spending: $991 per adult ($5.5 billion total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $216.1 million (0.7% of all tax revenue)

Massachusetts is one of only four states where spending on casino and lottery gaming topped $1,000 per adult in the state. As of the end of 2019, there were three casinos operating in the state that reported a combined revenue of $718.5 million — a 163% increase from the previous year. The nation-leading increase was driven by the June opening of a casino just outside of Boston.

Despite the burgeoning popularity of casino gambling in the state , lottery games remain the far more popular option. Massachusetts residents spent $5.5 billion on lotto tickets in 2019, which, when adjusting for population, is more than in every other state in the country.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

3. Delaware
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $1,370 per adult ($1.1 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $586 per adult ($450.8 million total)
> Annual lottery spending: $784 per adult ($603.7 million total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $208.4 million (4.5% of all tax revenue)

There are three commercial casinos in Delaware, and, driven by sports betting, casino spending climbed for the third consecutive year in 2019 to $450.8 million.

The Delaware state lottery is even more popular than the state’s casinos, as lottery ticket spending totalled $603.7 million in 2019. Combined spending on lottery tickets and in casinos totalled $1.1 billion in 2019, or $1,370 per adult.

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

2. Rhode Island
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $1,594 per adult ($1.4 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $781 per adult ($668.4 million total)
> Annual lottery spending: $813 per adult ($695.6 million total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $329.6 million (8.9% of all tax revenue)

Spending on lottery and casinos in Rhode Island totalled $1.4 billion in 2019. Adjusting for population, gambling expenditures totalled $1,594 per adult in the state in 2019, more than every other state except Nevada.

The state’s two casinos reported $668.4 million in revenue in 2019, just shy of the $695.6 million in total lotto tickets sales.

Source: photoquest7 / Getty Images

1. Nevada
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $5,035 per adult ($12.0 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $5,035 per adult ($12.0 billion total)
> Annual lottery spending: $0
> State tax revenue from casinos: $969.3 million (9.9% of all tax revenue)

Though it has no state lottery, Nevada reported higher gambling expenditures than every other state in 2019, both in absolute and population adjusted terms. Casino spending totalled $12.0 billion in 2019, or $5,035 for every adult in the state. It is important to note, however, that Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination, reporting 42.5 million visitors in 2019. As a result, per capita gambling expenditures in the state are not likely an accurate representation of residents’ spending.

Across Nevada, there are a total of 219 commercial casinos, four tribal casinos, and 1,978 locations with electronic gaming devices. All told, there are 160,526 gaming machines in Nevada, by far the most of any state. Gambling is a critical source of tax revenue, generating nearly $1 billion in revenue in 2019, accounting for about one in every 10 tax dollars collected by the state.