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Abby Messick

Abby graduated from Champlain College in 2013 with a degree in Professional Writing. She didn't expect to end up in the casino industry, but it's proving to be an educational experience.

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Top 10 US states by number of casinos per capita

20 Mar 2017

By Abby Messick
A riverboat casino in Mississippi.

A riverboat casino in Mississippi.

For this week's top 10, Casino City is tapping into information provided by WalletHub, a personal finance website.

While the No. 1 state (Nevada) on the list is a no-brainer, the other, less-populated states on the list may surprise you, as many of them are not the first destination on many people's casino bucket lists. Some have less than one casino per 1,000 residents, some have many more – read on to find out the specifics and an array of other gambling-habit tidbits from each state.

10. Wyoming - .91 casinos per 1,000 residents
In addition to 13 gaming venues, Wyoming allows lottery, charitable gaming, tribal gaming and pari-mutuel horse racing wagering. Its lottery was only authorized in 2013, making it a fairly new establishment – however, in 2014, revenue came in at over $8 million, $6 million of which must, by law, go into the state's general fund, where it will be distributed to municipalities and public education.

9. Minnesota - .95 casinos per 1,000 residents
As of 2016, Minnesota's 40 tribal gaming casinos contained a total of 21,547 slot machines.

Gaming activity brought in over $265 million in revenue in 2014. The state lottery brings in the bulk of the revenue – a total of $207 million was gathered that same year.

8. Colorado - 1.09 casinos per 1,000 residents
Colorado’s 35 casinos operate in the historic towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. In 2015, these properties generated $790.08 million in gross gaming revenue.

7. Mississippi - 1.47 casinos per 1,000 residents
The first Mississippi casino opened in 1992. As of 2015, there are 28 operating casinos that, in the same year, brought in over $2 billion in revenue.

According to WalletHub, there are 16 gaming machines per 1,000 residents over the age of 18. Commercial casinos house over 31,000 gaming machines combined, while tribal casinos have over 3,000, says the American Gaming Association (AGA).

6. New Mexico - 1.66 per 1,000 residents
Gross revenue from New Mexico's five racetrack casinos totaled $256.02 million in 2015.

From 1999 to 2015, $860 million in tax revenue has been received by the state, according to the AGA.

5. Montana - 1.79 per 1,000 residents
Montana is one of the four states that was exempt from the federal ban on sports betting that took effect in 1992. In a cruel twist of fate, however, sports betting is not allowed under a state statute.

Much of the state's gambling revenue comes from the casino and card room gaming that can be found in 144 different venues. In 2014, revenues totaled $388 million.

4. North Dakota - 2.01 per 1,000 residents
North Dakota houses a combination of charitable and tribal casinos. There are about two casinos and six gaming machines per 1,000 residents over the age of 18, according to WalletHub.

But that might be changing soon. Legislation that would allow a maximum of six state-owned casinos is currently making the rounds. But that legislation is being hotly contested – opponents say that the nonprofits that rely on revenue from charitable gaming locations would be affected negatively by these new casinos.

3. Oklahoma - 4.03 per 1,000 residents
Those of you in the know will realize that Oklahoma only has two commercial casinos. So what gives? Shouldn’t it be lower on the list? And how can there be 4.03 casinos per 1,000 residents if there are only two casinos?

The answer to that question lies in the state’s robust tribal gaming market: 33 Indian tribes own 114 tribal gaming operations, from which the state government received over $128 million in revenue-sharing payments in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, according to the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association.

In 2015, the casinos gave $2.49 million to higher education and an impressive $18.27 million to education reform, according to the AGA.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

2. South Dakota - 7.79 per 1,000 residents
Consumer spending on gaming in South Dakota rose 4.13% in 2015 to $108.36 million, from 2014’s $104 million, according to the American Gaming Association. Gaming revenue saw an increase of 4.1% in 2015, to $108.36 million, the highest it’s ever been in the state since 2012.

Though South Dakota may seem like an unlikely candidate for the No. 2 spot on this list, casinos have been operating in the state since 1989 – more specifically, operating in the town of Deadwood, the only area of the state where casino gaming is allowed. Today, there are a total of 27 operating casinos whose revenue helps maintain, restore and preserve historical aspects of the town, which was founded in 1870.

1. Nevada - 12.76 per 1,000 residents
The fact that Nevada is No. 1 on this list is surprising to exactly zero people, we know. This gambling mecca generates over 170,000 jobs in 271 casinos. And the revenue, of course, is insane – try $11.114 billion in gross revenue in 2015. Since legalizing gambling in 1931, the pastime has become integral to the state’s development and well-being. (As an example, over $75 million in gaming tax revenue is spent on public transportation each year, says the AGA. Not a bad chunk of change.)

There are also about 85 gaming machines per 1,000 residents over the age of 18.

Nevada has also paved the way for other states by changing up the rules on skill-based games, allowing them into casino halls in 2016.
 
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