Find Out How Each State Ranks in 2023’s Most Gambling-Addicted States

With the gambling industry bringing in a record $60 billion in revenue last year, and the Kentucky Derby soon to kick off, WalletHub today released its report on 2023’s Most Gambling-Addicted States, along with its Kentucky Derby Facts & History infographic.

In order to call out the states where gambling addiction is most prevalent, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 20 key metrics. The data set ranges from the presence of illegal gambling operations to lottery sales per capita to the share of adults with gambling disorders.

Gambling Addiction in California (1=Most Addicted, 25=Avg.):

  • 25th – Casinos per Capita
  • 24th – Gaming Machines per Capita
  • 27th – Lottery Sales per Capita
  • 32nd – % of Adults with Gambling Disorders
  • 1st – Gambling-Related Arrests per Capita
  • 1st – Legality of Daily Fantasy Sports
  • 45th – Legality of Sports Gambling

Expert Commentary
On balance, are state lotteries a good idea? Is there a way to make them less regressive?

“I think we have already crossed the bridge on the viability of State Lotteries as they are clearly here to stay. They do generate a significant amount of revenue for States, but I do believe we need to study the impact on demographics within communities (particularly at-risk and low-income communities) that may be spending a disproportionate share on State lotteries.”
— Michael L. Huyghue – Visiting Professor of the Practice, Cornell University

“State governments raise a lot of revenue from lotteries, and they do it without raising taxes. Opponents of lottery feel that lottery sales put a burden on the poor, communities of color, and less educated spend the most, they also give the wrong message about solving poverty. Most argue that state lotteries are regressive in nature, but maybe focusing on and starting more education-based lotteries can be one way to make them less regressive.”
— Asim A Shah, M.D. – Professor; Executive Vice Chair, Menninger Department of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine

What are the signs someone is addicted to gambling? What should friends and family do to help?

“The signs that gambling is controlling an individual instead of the individual controlling their degree and amount of gambling is probably something that many observers intuitively have a feel for. One who is close to someone with a problem probably sees the signs, but one problem is that such an individual’s denial is strong for those in the most need of help. Gambling addiction would seem to follow a similar path to other forms of addictive behavior. Friends and family should seek information about how to get professional help for individuals in need, but the real challenge is convincing someone in need of that help to agree to pursue it.”
— Ed Edmonds – Professor Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

“The top five warning signs that someone may be at risk for or have a Gambling Disorder are: (1) increased gambling frequency and preoccupation; (2) lying about where lost money has gone; (3) borrowing in order to keep gambling and/or pay debts; (4) distancing or isolating from family and/or friends; and (5) efforts to stop or cut back from gambling are unsuccessful. There are many resources available for those whose lives are negatively impacted by gambling. There are counseling options and support groups, as well as most states have a council for problem gambling, that will assist those in need. Also, there is a national hotline: 1-800-GAMBLER available 24/7 that can help those facing gambling-related harms as well as their family/friends.”
— Michelle L. Malkin, JD, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, East Carolina University

Should sports betting be legal in all states? What are the pros and cons?

“The citizens of each state should determine the legality of sports betting for themselves. Sports betting is, for many, a fun way to consume sports contests, and carries few negative implications for those who choose not to engage. But it is just for fun; despite the hype, states do not usually see the large increases in state revenue that are often promised.”
— Jeffrey Standen – Professor, Northern Kentucky University

“The question of whether sports betting should be legal in all states is not likely to be answered in the affirmative in the near term given some states prohibit much if not all forms of gambling. However, since the Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2018, there are now 33 states plus the District of Columbia that allow sports betting with three more that will follow soon.  The traditional arguments for and against gambling largely apply to sports betting as well. Legal sports betting can bring significant additional revenue to the state in the form of taxes and fees, jobs in locations that allow for in-person gaming, and for some enthusiasts, it is an enjoyable hobby or even profession. However, increased access to sports betting can lead to issues of gambling addiction, increased costs to states in providing resources or assistance programs to individuals who have become addicted to gambling, and potentially even corruption in the game through point shaving, fixing matches, or other similar conduct that harms the integrity of the athletic contest.”
— David P. Weber – Professor, Creighton University

For the full report, please visit:




Image Sources

  • Gambling: Pixabay