We all gamble. You might play fantasy sports or enter a March Madness pool, for example. Or perhaps you jaywalk on occasion, betting you won’t get hit by a car. But relatively few of us have a gambling addiction, which can destroy your finances, ruin your relationships, and ultimately destroy your life if unchecked. Gambling addictions, like all addictions, are no laughing matter. And they’re more common in some places than others.
An analysis from WalletHub ranks the 50 states from top to bottom to see which are the most “gambling-addicted.” And the report lays out just how serious of a problem gambling addictions can be.
“On a societal level, compulsive gambling costs an estimated $6 billion per year, according to a study by the National Council on Problem Gambling. Individually, a male gambling addict accumulates an average debt of between $55,000 and $90,000 whereas a female averages $15,000,” according to WalletHub.
“WalletHub’s analysts therefore compared the 50 states to determine where excessive gambling is most prevalent. Our data set of 15 key metrics ranges from presence of illegal gambling operations to lottery sales per capita to share of adults with gambling disorders,” the report said.
Let’s take a closer look at the 15 states most addicted to playing the odds.
Gambling might give you a Rocky Mountain high, and in Colorado, that’s a relatively serious problem. Per WalletHub’s analysis, Colorado earned a “gambling-friendliness” rank of 17 and a “gambling problem and treatment” ranking of 18. All told, Colorado is fairly in the middle of the pack when it comes to gambling. The state doesn’t rank within the top five in any of WalletHub’s specific categories.
Next: We head to the East Coast.
If you’ve been to Baltimore recently, you might have noticed there’s a giant new casino near downtown. Is that a signal gambling is becoming bigger in Maryland? Perhaps. The state does make the top 14 on WalletHub’s list, after all. Maryland ranked high in one specific category in the analysis: fifth in “gambling problem and treatment.” It was 25th — totally average — in “gambling friendliness.”
Next: Online gambling may be coming to this state soon.
Massachusetts is yet another state that is more average than anything. The state ranks 13th overall on WalletHub’s analysis. It ranks 14th in “gambling friendliness” and 16th in “gambling problem and treatment.” Plus, there are rumblings in the state government that online gambling could soon be legalized.
Next: There’s not a lot to do in this state, besides gambling of course.
12. North Dakota
There isn’t a lot in North Dakota. But there are some casinos, allowing for a recreation option in a state that can be fairly uneventful. North Dakota ranked eighth in terms of “gambling friendliness” and was 35th in “gambling problem and treatment.” Evidently, gambling is a good way to pass the time on the prairie.
Next: This state has the highest lottery sales per capita.
Delaware is composed mostly of rural farmland and ocean beaches. Ocean beaches attract tourists, and tourists like recreational activities, such as gambling. That means Delaware needs to be friendly to gamblers, and in that category, the state ranks 12th per the WalletHub analysis. Also, Delaware tied for first among the states for the highest lottery sales per capita.
You could say the residents of Ohio took a gamble during the 2016 presidential election. It’s unclear as to whether they’re winners, at least at this point. But perhaps gambling is in Ohio’s blood. It’s popular enough to propel Ohio into the top 10 of WalletHub’s gambling addiction rankings. Per those rankings, the state ranked fourth in the highest percentage of adults with gambling disorders.
There are a lot of things to do and see in Louisiana. You can learn about Creole culture, or check out the more lively parts of New Orleans. Or, as many in Louisiana do, you can hit the casino floor. Louisiana ranked third in the percentage of adults with gambling disorders, and it ranked 11th in terms of “gambling friendliness.” There are a few big casinos right in downtown New Orleans, too.
Oregon is full of natural and man-made wonders. You have Mount Hood and Crater Lake, for example. And who can go to Portland or Eugene without hitting up the famous Voodoo Doughnut? It’s also full of people who love to play the slots and card tables. Oregon ranked fifth for “gambling friendliness,” but it’s all the way down at the 39th spot for “gambling problem and treatment.”
The great state of Oklahoma does not have many natural wonders — at least none that compare to other parts of the country. But Oklahoma does have some straight shooters, who like to put their money on the line. Oklahoma ranked fourth for “gambling friendliness” and tied for first for most casinos per capita. It also ranked second for most gambling machines per capita.
6. New Jersey
New Jersey is known for the Jersey Shore and Bridgegate. And it has one of the biggest gambling hot spots outside of Las Vegas: Atlantic City. New Jersey ranked within the top five for most gambling-related arrests per capita and the highest percentage of adults with gambling disorders. And it’s within the top 10 for “gambling friendliness.”
The mention of Mississippi and gambling might conjure up images of riverboat casinos floating up and down the Mississippi River. And make no mistake, Mississippians love to gamble, at least according to WalletHub’s report. Mississippi tied for first in the categories of highest percentage of adults with gambling disorders and most gambling-related arrests per capita.
4. West Virginia
It’s not all coal mining and poisoned waterways in West Virginia. WalletHub’s analysis tells us residents also love to gamble up in Appalachia. West Virginians ranked first in highest lottery sales per capita, tied with several other states. The state ranked sixth in “gambling friendliness” and landed at seventh in “gambling problem and treatment.”
Montana is a long way from West Virginia geographically, but there are a lot of cultural similarities. One of them is a shared love for gambling, as it turns out. WalletHub ranks Montana as the second most gambling-friendly state. And it also ranks fourth in two other important categories: most casinos per capita and most gaming machines per capita.
2. South Dakota
We covered South Dakota’s counterpart, North Dakota, earlier on the list. And here we are with South Dakota, which ranks second overall. The state ranked third in most gaming machines per capita. And it tied for first in most casinos per capita, helped by a small population and a few touristy hot spots in the Black Hills. South Dakota ranked third overall for “gambling friendliness.”
You knew it was coming, and here it is. Nevada is the top state overall for gambling and gambling addiction. It makes sense. Nevada is home to Las Vegas and Reno, after all. Nevada ranked first overall for “gambling-friendliness,” most casinos per capita, and most gaming machines per capita.
See the complete analysis from WalletHub here.