Nevada, South Dakota, Montana Are America’s Three Most Gambling-Addicted States

  • Nevada has the most casinos, gaming machines, GA meetings, illegal gambling arrests
  • South Dakota, Montana scored badly on gambling friendliness, gambling problem and treatment
  • WalletHub Analyst said people with gambling addictions may benefit from moving state
Reno, Nevada
Nevada is the US’s most gambling addicted state, with South Dakota and Montana next. [Image:]

Mapping gambling addiction

A WalletHub study of America’s most gambling-addicted states has revealed Nevada, perhaps unsurprisingly, claims the top spot, with South Dakota and Montana making up the top three.

Notably, Utah and Hawaii, both states without a legal gambling market, made it onto the list regardless in 44th and 50th place, respectively. WalletHub took to X to share its findings.

In its exhaustive, heavy metrical study, WalletHub compared ‘gambling friendliness’ and ‘gambling problem and treatment’ across 50 states. The Evolution Finance-owned firm scored states on facts such as lottery sales, the number of gaming machines per 1,000 residents, or the number of Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meetings.

Nevada not only tops the list, it comes first per capita for the most casinos, gaming machines, GA meetings, and illegal gambling arrests.

Sense behind the stats

As it is the gambling capital of the US, Nevada’s appearence at the top of the list probably comes as no shock to anyone. Around 2.7% of Nevada’s adult population have gambling disorders.

South Dakota’s appearance as the US’s second-most-gambling-addicted state might seem unusual given the population of New York for example, but it scored badly on both gambling friendliness and gambling problem and treatment.

South Dakotans can’t use their mobiles or computers to make bets, but they have some of the most casinos and gaming machines per capita to choose from, with the latter allowed in retail stores. While legal sports betting went live in South Dakota in September 2021, it’s only legal at retail level in Deadwood casinos and those on tribal reservations.

Montana does not have gambling counselors”

In Montana, the number three state on WalletHub’s list, 2.5% of adult residents have a gambling addiction, one of the highest percentages in the US. In a news release, the Miami-based personal finance firm highlighted that: “Montana does not have gambling counselors and doesn’t require businesses to train their employees on disordered and problem gambling.”

Joining Utah at the bottom end of the scale, as the US states most unaffected by problem gambling, are Vermont (48th) and Alaska (49th).

Problems and solutions

According to the report, 1-3% of US adults have a gambling issue. The study also contrasts the gambling industry’s record $65bn revenue for 2023 with the more than $100bn in gambling losses experienced by American consumers.

WalletHub Analyst Cassandra Happe said while some people can enjoy gambling casually, others find the temptation too great. Her advice to the latter is to get outta Dodge. “People with a gambling addiction may find it helpful to live in states where places to gamble are less prevalent and laws against betting are stricter,” she explained.

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