The study, which was conducted by financial fitness firm WalletHub, compared states on two specific categories, including ‘gambling-friendliness,’ which takes into account the availability of gambling options, including casinos, lotteries, the legality of daily fantasy sports, sports betting and horseracing, plus the presence of illegal gambling operations.
The second category ranked states on ‘gambling problem & treatment,’ which includes criteria such as the number of state residents with diagnosed gambling disorders, the availability of problem gambling treatment options and the number of gambling-related arrests.
Nevada topped the ‘most addicted’ ranking with an overall score of 57, narrowly edging out runner-up South Dakota’s 56.62. The two states tied for the most number of casinos per capita, and ranked #1 and #2 respectively in gaming machines per capita. South Dakota also tied for highest lottery sales in the nation, while Nevada lacks a state lottery.
The top two scores would suggest a direct correlation between gambling addiction and the availability of casinos, yet Hawaii – which doesn’t permit gambling of any kind – ranked 27th on the chart, thanks to coming in second in the problem gambling treatment category.
Utah also doesn’t permit gambling within its borders, yet it somehow managed to avoid Hawaii’s fate by ranking dead last on the addiction scale. Utah tied for the fewest number of gambling-related arrests, which begs the question: is Utah better at quelling gambling urges, or is Hawaii more diligent in busting illegal gamblers?
Minnesota and Mississippi earned the dubious honor of tying for first place in the highest numbers of adults with gambling disorders, followed by Louisiana, while New Jersey and Ohio tied for fourth.
At the opposite end of the scale, Florida ranked dead last on the gambling disorder ranking. Interestingly, South Dakota tied for fifth-best in this category, despite the ubiquity of its casino offering.