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