Gambling in America

June 15, 2012 • Volume 22, Issue 22
Are states hooked on money from games?
By Kenneth Jost


Ka-ching! A slot machine pays off at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas (Getty Images/City Center/Ethan Miller)
Ka-ching! A slot machine pays off at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Commercial and Indian casinos in 38 states account for 65 percent of the revenue from gambling. Lotteries account for nearly 30 percent. (Getty Images/City Center/Ethan Miller)

Gambling was once illegal and widely regarded as immoral in most of the United States, but today it is a popular pastime, a $90 billion industry and an important source of revenue for state and local governments and Indian tribes. Lotteries in 43 states and the District of Columbia collectively generate $18 billion in revenue for state and local governments. Commercial casinos contribute $8 billion, while Indian tribes negotiate payments to states for permission to operate casinos on tribal lands. Casino companies promise jobs, economic development and other payoffs, but critics say the benefits are exaggerated and the social costs of gambling ignored. Lottery advocates view the game as a politically palatable revenue source, while critics warn against encouraging compulsive betting by lower-income residents. The criticisms are having little impact, and gambling may become more pervasive with the advent of legal online poker and other games.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Gambling and Lotteries
Oct. 28, 2016  Betting on Sports
Jun. 15, 2012  Gambling in America
Mar. 07, 2003  Gambling in America
Sep. 06, 1996  Gambling Under Attack
Mar. 18, 1994  Gambling Boom
Nov. 09, 1990  Lucrative Lure of Lotteries and Gambling
Feb. 27, 1987  State Lotteries
Sep. 28, 1979  Gambling's New Respectability
Mar. 08, 1972  Gambling in America
May 25, 1960  Betting: Legal and Illegal
Dec. 14, 1951  Gambling Controls
May 21, 1942  Government Lotteries
May 04, 1934  Lotteries for Public Revenue
Popular Culture