This isn’t your grandpa’s backroom poker game. In the past few decades, gambling has come out of the shadows and into the economic mainstream, developing into a $240 billion industry that generates $38 billion in tax revenue, according to a study by Oxford Economics commissioned by the American Gaming Commission. And these days, you no longer need to be in Vegas to get in on the action.
Today, gambling is now legal in more places than it’s not, as states increasingly see casino tax revenue as an easy way to plug stubborn budget holes. In gambling-friendly states, money pours in not just from direct gaming taxes, but also from visitor spending at casino restaurants, shows, and hotels; the wages paid to employees; and payments to the suppliers that support the industry, noted the Oxford report. At the same time, some worry the race to capture that sweet gambling revenue has led to a glut of casinos that will ultimately cannibalize each other. That’s already happened in New Jersey, where the casino industry has struggled in the face of competition from neighboring states.
The gambling boom may or may not be sustainable. But in the meantime, states are riding the wave. So which ones have really hit the jackpot when it comes to gambling? Tax revenues from casino gambling are highest in these 15 states, according to the American Gaming Association.
Tax revenue from gambling: $358.7 million
Florida’s 16 commercial casinos generate $1.3 billion in economic activity and $359 million in federal, state, and local tax revenue every year, including $170.4 million in gaming taxes. The industry supports close to 8,000 jobs in the Sunshine State.
Next: Rhode Island
14. Rhode Island
Tax revenue from gambling: $494.5 million
Tiny Rhode Island is pulling down big gambling bucks. The state only has two commercial casinos, one in Lincoln and one in Newport, but together they generate $1 billion in economic activity and $494.5 million in tax revenues. The gaming industry also supports 5,496 jobs in the state.
Tax revenue from gambling: $635.5 million
Maryland only has a handful of casinos, but it does a lot of business. Federal, state, and local governments received more than $635 million in tax revenue from casinos in 2014. Those numbers will likely rise since the MGM National Harbor casino opened in late 2016. The casino just outside of Washington, D.C., took in close to $42 million in its first three weeks of operation and is expected to pull in $700 million every year in pre-tax revenue, The Washington Post reported.
Tax revenue from gambling: $717.1 million
You might not expect a wholesome Midwestern state like Iowa to be a gambling hotbed, but it is. The state’s 19 commercial casinos generated $2.4 billion in economic activity and $717.1 million in tax revenue. The state’s gaming industry supports nearly 17,000 jobs, according to the American Gaming Association.
Tax revenue from gambling: $721 million
Michigan has 23 tribal casinos and three commercial casinos. The commercial casinos alone generate roughly $2.8 billion in economic activity. Gaming generates $721.3 million in yearly tax revenue in the state, including $306.1 million in gaming taxes.
Tax revenue from gambling: $911.4 million
Mississippi’s $3.9 billion gaming industry supports 36,000 jobs that pay out $1.4 billion in wages every year. The state’s 28 commercial casinos generate $911.4 in tax revenue, including $257.6 million in gaming taxes.
Tax revenue from gambling: $917 billion
The 11 commercial casinos in Ohio produce $3 billion in economic activity in this Rust Belt state. Federal, state, and local governments get $917 million back every year in taxes — including $356.6 million in gaming taxes. The gaming industry supports 17,068 jobs in the state.
Tax revenue from gambling: $968.3 million
The Land of Lincoln has 10 casinos that contribute nearly $3.1 billion in economic activity to the state. Nearly $1 billion pours in to federal, state, and local government coffers every year due to gambling, including $536.7 million in gaming taxes.
Tax revenue from gambling: $969.2 million
There are 13 casinos in Missouri that generate $3.3 billion in economic activity. More than 20,000 people have jobs tied to the gaming industry, which also generates $969.2 million in yearly tax revenue.
Next: New Jersey
6. New Jersey
Tax revenue from gambling: $1.2 billion
In 1976, New Jersey became the only state other than Nevada with legal casino gaming. That turned Atlantic City into a seaside gambling mecca for a time, but the state’s days as a hotbed for poker and blackjack have faded as other states have opened casinos of their own. Today, the Garden State’s eight casinos generate about $1.2 billion in tax revenue every year, including $241.1 million in gaming taxes.
Tax revenue from gambling: $1.3 billion
Thirteen casinos in Indiana generate $1.3 billion in tax revenue every year, including more than $500 million directly from gaming taxes. Close to 25,000 Hoosier State jobs paying $1 billion in total wages are supported by gaming.
Next: New York
4. New York
Tax revenue from gambling: $1.3 billion
In New York, the gaming industry generates $3.6 billion in economic activity; supports 14,395 jobs; and generates $1.3 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues. There are nine commercial casinos in the state.
Tax revenue from gambling: $1.34 billion
Louisiana’s $4.8 billion gaming industry is the third largest in the country in terms of economic impact. The state’s 20 commercial casinos support nearly 32,000 jobs in the state and generate $1.3 billion in tax revenue, including $587.5 million in gaming taxes.
Tax revenue from gambling: $2.4 billion
Casino gambling has only been legal in Pennsylvania since 2004, but the state’s dozen casinos do big business. Gambling is a $6.1 billion industry in Pennsylvania and generates $2.4 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues. More than half of that revenue comes directly from gaming taxes, which are among the highest in the country.
Tax revenue from gambling: $7.9 billion
It’s no surprise that Nevada is king when it comes to gambling tax revenues. More than half of all commercial casinos in the U.S. are located in this state, where gaming generates $52.9 billion in economic activity. Gambling supports more than 430,000 jobs and generates $7.9 billion in tax revenue, including $903.4 million from gaming taxes.