Hitting the Jackpot: These States Make the Most Money From Casino Gambling

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.

15. Florida

Beautiful Sunset with rainbow at Boca Raton beach, Florida

Casinos created close to 8,000 jobs for the state. | iStock.com/ddmitr

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

Providence, Rhode Island

The tiny state is making big profits. | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

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.

Next: Maryland

13. Maryland

annapolis, maryland

Its proximity to D.C. might help. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Next: Iowa

12. Iowa

The state may be known for agriculture, but it has a booming casino business, too. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

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.

Next: Michigan

11. Michigan

Mackinac Island, Michigan

There’s a mix of tribal and commercial casinos. | iStock.com

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.

Next: Mississippi

10. Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

The gaming industry makes billions in Mississippi. | iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto

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.

Next: Ohio

9. Ohio

The Scioto river reflects Downtown Columbus Ohio

There are 11 commercial casinos in the state. | iStock.com/David Rigg

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.

Next: Illinois

8. Illinois

Downtown chicago from above

Despite the $1 billion in tax revenue, the state still has a budget issue. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Next: Missouri

7. Missouri

St. Louis

The industry creates more than 20,000 jobs. | Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

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

The Garden State was the second to receive a license. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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.

Next: Indiana

5. Indiana

autumn scene

Casinos generate over $1 billion in tax revenue every year. | Visit Fort Wayne via Facebook

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

Statue of Liberty

The state has nine commercial casinos. | Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Next: Louisiana

3. Louisiana

Dusk falls over Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, 11 July 2006, almost one year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. For tourists strolling through the French Quarter it's easy to forget that Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans a year ago. The beignets are fresh, trinkets and designer clothes are artfully arranged in shop windows, and hurricanes are spinning in the bars on Bourbon Street. But while the music, food and good times have come back, the crowds have not and the city is struggling to make ends meet while its main industry remains crippled. With more than 10 million visitors a year, tourism was once a 5.5 billion dollar industry in New Orleans, accounting for 40 percent of the city's tax revenues and employing 85,000 people. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Louisiana’s gambling industry is the third largest in the country. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Next: Pennsylvania

2. Pennsylvania

Welcome to Pennsylvania road sign

It has some of the highest gaming taxes in the country. | iStock.com/benkrut

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.

Next: Nevada

1. Nevada

It’s no surprise the state home to Las Vegas tops the list. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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.

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