Las Vegas is easily America's city that is most synonymous with recreational risk-taking. Atlantic City, especially for those on the East Coast, has also long been known as a place to take a chance on blackjack or drop coins in a slot machine. But in truth, the United States is dotted with gambling havens from coast to coast. With tax rates up to 40 percent, these businesses can generate hundreds of millions in state revenues.
We decided to look at the states with the most revenue from commercial gambling in 2012. Some of the 13 states that made our list won't surprise you. Others, such as Iowa, may.
The numbers do not include tribal gaming, because The National Indian Gaming Association does not publish state-by-state revenue, though revenue on all Native lands combined was $27 billion in 2013. Including all of the money tribal casinos generate would place California and Connecticut among the top markets for gambling in the U.S., and onto this list.
But non-tribal casinos are growing, and most of the states on this list legalized gambling sometime in the last 25 years. New casinos are built every year and many of the states with the biggest gaming markets may surprise you.
—By CNBC.com's Robert Ferris.
Posted 19 April 2014.
Revenues: $766 Million
Year Legalized: 1990
Yes, the state that has lately become famous for its, well, greener economy, also happens to be a great place to risk the family fortune. Colorado has a staggering 41 casinos, which generate more than $100 million in taxes for the state.
Revenue: $948 Million
Year legalized: 1994
Types: Racetrack with games, land-based
Known primarily for mining industry and Appalachian culture, the state of West Virginia rakes in almost $1 billion a year in gaming revenues from only five casinos. In addition to the racetrack casinos in several cities, the four-star Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs recently added gaming, the first non-track casino in the state.
Revenue: $1.42 billion
Year legalized: 1996
Detroit's auto industry may be trying to regain its footing, but Michigan's casinos are holding steady at $1.42 billion in revenues from just three casinos. The motor city is home to an MGM Grand hotel with casino, and two other casinos: Greektown and Motor City.
Revenue: $1.47 billion
Year legalized: 1989
Types: Riverboat, land-based and racetracks
Iowa's gaming industry has actually grown modestly over the last couple of years. The state has a mix of 18 riverboat, standalone and racetrack casinos with slots and table games.
Revenue: $1.64 billion
Year legalized: 1990
Illinois' 10 riverboat casinos host roughly 16 million visitors a year. Its most recent addition opened in 2011, leading to a 10 percent jump in revenues in 2012.
Revenue: $1.77 billion
Year legalized: 1993
Missouri's thirteen riverboats net about $471 million in tax revenues for the state, but new competition from neighboring state Kansas is stealing away business—it contributed to a 2.2 percent decline in sales in 2013.
Revenue: $1.8 Billion
Year legalized: 2001
Types: Racetrack casinos and one land based-casino
The year-old Resorts World New York in Queens is the state's first casino that is not attached to a racetrack. It helped revenues leap 43 percent last year. The nearby Empire Raceway in Yonkers is still the biggest money maker in the state.
Revenue: $2.25 Billion
Year legalized: 1990
Types: Docked riverboats, land-based
Flooding in the Mississippi River was hard on the riverboat casinos that are more or less permanently docked on the riverbanks. But they have recovered and enjoyed a slight revenue increase in 2012.
Revenue: $2.40 Billion
Year Legalized: 1991
Types: Riverboat, land-based and racetrack casinos with slots and table games
Many of Louisiana's 18 casinos are in New Orleans, but the opening of the L'Auberge Casino Hotel in Baton Rouge boosted the state's revenue's by 1.3 percent in 2012.
Revenue: $2.61 Billion
Year Legalized: 1993
Types: Riverboats, land-based and racetrack casinos with slots and table games
Indiana does an unexpectedly large business in gaming, but increasing competition from neighboring states Ohio and Illinois contributed to a 4 percent revenue decline.
Revenue: $3.05 Billion
Year Legalized: 1976
All of New Jersey's non-tribal casinos are concentrated in the city of Atlantic City, which alone generates almost as much revenue as the entire state of Pennsylvania.
Revenue: $3.16 billion
Year Legalized: 2004
Types: Land-based and racetrack casinos with slots and table games
Pennsylvania surpassed New Jersey in overall revenue for the first time in 2012. The 11 casinos in cities across the state generated almost $1.5 billion in tax revenues that year.
Revenue: $10.86 Billion
Year Legalized: 1931
Besides Las Vegas, of course, Nevada is freckled with towns and cities that offer gambling—the state has 265 casinos. The northeastern corner of the state is even home to a town called Jackpot.
Want to bet on which one of these will move into the list next year?
Maine: Grew from $59 million in 2011 to almost $100 million in 2012.
Maryland: Saw a 142 percent increase in gambling from $155 million in 2011 to $377 million in 2012.
Kansas: Home to a staggering 603 percent increase in gambling revenue, from a mere $48 million in 2011 to $341 million in 2012.