Special Report

States Spending the Most and Least on Gambling

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30. Kentucky
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $307 per adult ($1.1 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $0
> Annual lottery spending: $307 per adult ($1.1 billion total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $0

Though the state is closely associated with horseracing, Kentucky has otherwise relatively restrictive laws related to gambling. As of 2019, no commercial or tribal casinos were permitted to operate in the state. The state does, however, allow certain video gaming machines, including those for placing bets on racing, in non-casino locations. There are nearly 3,000 such machines across the state.

A state lottery was legalized in Kentucky in 1988, and the first ticket was sold the following year. State residents spent a total of $1.1 billion on lottery tickets in 2019, or $307 for every adult resident.

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29. Virginia
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $324 per adult ($2.2 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $0
> Annual lottery spending: $324 per adult ($2.2 billion total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $0

There were no casinos operating in Virginia in 2019. However, that same year, state lawmakers authorized five cities to build a commercial casino, local voters approved of the measure, and now four of those five casinos are expected to open in 2022 or 2023. Still, there are more than 2,000 casino-style gambling machines in non-casino locations throughout the state.

Virginia has also had a state lottery since the 1980s. Lottery ticket sales in the state brought in $2.2 billion in 2019, or $324 for every adult resident.

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28. Colorado
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $325 per adult ($1.5 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $185 per adult ($833.7 million total)
> Annual lottery spending: $140 per adult ($628.2 million total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $123.3 million (0.8% of all tax revenue)

There were 33 commercial casinos and two tribal casinos operating in Colorado in 2019. Commercial casinos alone reported $833.7 in revenue that year, and the state benefited from that spending to the tune of $123.3 in tax revenue. Casinos have been operating in the state for 30 years.

Colorado’s lottery system predates casinos by almost a decade. State residents purchased $628.2 million in instant games and lotto tickets in 2019. Combined lottery and commercial casino spending in the state totaled $1.5 billion in 2019, or $325 per adult.

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27. North Carolina
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $325 per adult ($2.7 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $0
> Annual lottery spending: $325 per adult ($2.7 billion total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $0

There were no commercial casinos operating in North Carolina in 2019 and only three tribal casinos. Aside from charity bingo and raffles and online fantasy sports betting, the only other regulated form of gambling in the state is the lottery.

State residents 18 and older are permitted to purchase lottery tickets, including instant scratch off games. North Carolinians spent $2.7 billion on lottery tickets in 2019, or $325 for every adult in the state.

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26. Oregon
> Annual lottery and casino spending: $326 per adult ($1.1 billion total)
> Annual casino spending: $0
> Annual lottery spending: $326 per adult ($1.1 billion total)
> State tax revenue from casinos: $0

Though there were no commercial casinos operating in Oregon in 2019, there were still 11,530 casino-style gambling machines in non-casino locations throughout the state. The state is also home to 10 tribal casinos. Oregon also legalized sports betting in 2019.

Like most other states, Oregon also has a state lottery that includes instant games like scratch-off tickets. Lotto ticket sales totalled $1.1 billion in the state in 2019, or $326 for every adult.