WalletHub Study: California Is 2022’s Eighth Most Gambling-Addicted State

With the gambling industry bringing in record-breaking profits last year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Kentucky Derby soon to kick off, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2022’s Most Gambling-Addicted States.

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.):

  • 27th – Casinos per Capita
  • 30th – Gaming Machines per Capita
  • 26th – Lottery Sales per Capita
  • 1st – Gambling-Related Arrests per Capita
  • 1st – Legality of Daily Fantasy Sports
  • 1st – Legality of Sports Gambling

Expert Commentary

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

“Regulated sports betting creates an environment for the millions of Americans that were betting on sports offshore before the Wire Act was struck down in 2018. The projected numbers many analysts worked off in 2018 suggest how prevalent unregulated gambling was to Americans. Regulating offers an alternative with trustworthy payments, effective age, and ID practices to ensure it is restricted to those that are of legal age and responsible gambling measures to help support those that are experiencing problems with gambling. The tax revenues that are collected by state regulators channel that revenue back into our communities.”
— Anna Sainsbury – Adjunct Professor, University of New Hampshire; Co-Founder & CEO, GeoComply

“Not in my opinion, although legalization will inevitably spread to most states. States will want to tax revenue and not lose out to other states. The ‘pros’ simply involve offering a form of recreation to gamblers and potentially providing revenue from ‘voluntary taxation’ to state governments. The ‘cons’ include the regressivity of that voluntary tax, further spread of gambling addiction, and the property crimes committed by compulsive gamblers to fund their habit.”
— Patrick Pierce – Professor Emeritus, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame

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

“In general, I think lotteries are a very bad idea. I understand why they are legal and why states choose to use them to help finance areas like education, but they really are incredibly regressive. Many lower-income individuals may see lotteries (more-so than other forms of gambling) as their chance to find their way out of poverty or near poverty, but the odds are simply not in their favor. When lottery income is used to finance money for college, this often results in poorer people paying for the education of those with more money than them. I am honestly not sure how we could make lotteries less regressive, but educating the people that play these games about the chances of actually winning and where the money really goes would be a step in the right direction.”
— Benton W. Tyler – Professor, University of Montevallo

“People should be free to spend their disposable income on whatever they desire. However, whether the government should be involved in the gaming business as a purveyor is subject to scrutiny. The state lotteries tend to be regressive and frequently have obscene house advantages. A government that becomes too reliant on such income may forget its other obligations to protect the public from unfair business practices. This includes addressing responsible gambling related to lottery tickets and problem gambling from the lottery profits.”
— Anthony Cabot – Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The global gambling industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How have the restrictions affected the U.S. gambling market?

“The pandemic has impacted the industry in two ways. First, the casinos had to close during the early stages of the pandemic. Since you were unable to have large indoor gatherings, casinos had to shut down. Even when they opened back up traffic to the casinos was lighter than pre-pandemic. Second, mobile sports betting allowed gamblers to stay home and bet. So, once the games started again, people went online to bet. Therefore, instead of hurting the sports betting market, the pandemic actually increased business since people were trapped at home and unable to go anywhere else.”
—  John T. Wolohan – Professor, Syracuse University

“The pandemic was impactful when the casinos closed – not only to the casinos but their workforce. It did, however, accelerate the legalization of internet sports and casino wagering by many years as states looked to plug holes in their budgets. After the casinos reopened in Las Vegas, the players returned, but the other non-gaming amenities were slower to return to normal – such as the restaurants and entertainment. Moreover, foreign visitors are still markedly below the pre-pandemic numbers. Nevertheless, the industry is resilient, and I suspect that 2022 will be record-breaking.”
— Anthony Cabot – Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas