Oklahoma is No. 5 in the nation in gambling addiction

Oklahoma has more casinos per capita than any other state and is fifth in the nation in terms of gambling addiction.

Oklahoma’s embrace of legalized gambling has vaulted the “buckle of the Bible Belt” toward the top of the list in problems caused by gambling, according to a national study by WalletHub.com.

In its report, “2016’s Most Gambling-Addicted States,” WalletHub lists Oklahoma as No. 3 in number of gambling machines per capita, No. 5 in legality of sports gambling and No. 11 in percentage of adults with gambling disorders.

Oklahoma is No. 18 in the number of gambling-related arrests (per capita) and No. 18 in affiliation with the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Oklahoma is No. 20 in the legality of Daily Fantasy Sports.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction.”

According to the report, Americans lose roughly $100 billion gambling each year, and fans were expected to wager more than $100 million on the recent Kentucky Derby.

The report used 13 factors, including “presence of illegal gambling operations,” “lottery sales per capita,” “percentage of people with gambling disorders” and more.

“Gambling exists in every state — even Hawaii and Utah, where gambling is prohibited by law — but not everyone gambles the same,” according to the report. “First, there are ‘recreational’ or ‘social gamblers who might, for instance, buy the occasional scratcher, take the rare casino trip or bet small stakes in fantasy sports. But they also possess the mental capacity to quit at any point and prevent catastrophic financial loss. Then there are ‘professional’ gamblers — the likes of math genius Edward Thorp and high-stakes sports bettor Bill Krackomberger — who gamble well enough to make a living out of it while separating work from personal life.

“But when the business or pleasure gets out of control, gambling becomes a real medical condition. Gambling disorder, as the affliction is known, affects slightly more than 2 percent of all U.S. adults.”

On a societal level, compulsive gambling costs an estimated $6 billion per year, according to a study by the National Council on Problem Gambling.

“Individually, a male gambling addict accumulates an average debt between $55,000 and $90,000 whereas a female averages $15,000, by one estimate,” according to the report. “Most do not have adequate resources to pay back what they owe. As a result, gambling addicts develop a high tendency to amass even more debt, suffer from other health issues, lose their jobs, strain their relationships or even commit crimes.”

Former state Sen. Rick Brinkley, a Republican from Owasso, stole around $1.8 from the Better Business Bureau to feed his gambling habit. A former minister, Brinkley is now in prison after resigning from the Oklahoma Senate.

In order to identify the states that are most addicted to gambling, WalletHub’s analysts compared “gambling-friendliness” and “gambling problem and treatment.”


  • Number of commercial and tribal casinos per 100,000 Population: Also, in this report “commercial casinos” are defined as land-based, riverboat and racetrack casinos.
  • Number of gambling machines per 1,000 population
  • iGaming revenues per capita
  • Limited-stakes gaming revenues per capita
  • Lottery sales per capita
  • Presence of illegal gambling operations
  • Legality of sports gambling
  • Legality of horse-race gambling
  • Gambling problem and treatment percentage of adults aged 18 and older with gambling disorders: double weight
  • NCPG affiliation
  • Presence of gambling-addiction treatment programs
  • Number of gambling-related arrests per 100,000 population.

Over the years, more advanced technology has paved the way for new forms of gambling such as iGaming, online fantasy sports and video poker.

“And while the estimated $240 billion gaming industry is no doubt a major contributor to the U.S. economy, its critics argue that gambling leads to social and economic problems, including gambling disorder and regressive taxes on residents of local economies where gambling facilities are present,” the report states.

The report concludes with the questions:

Should sports betting be legal in all states? What are its pros and cons?

Should daily fantasy sports be regulated as gambling?

On balance, are state lotteries a good idea? Is there a way to make them less regressive?

What are the signs someone is addicted to gambling? What should friends and family do to help?

Most Gambling Addicted States

  1. Nevada
  2. South Dakota
  3. Mississippi
  4. Montana
  5. Oklahoma
  6. West Virginia
  7. New Jersey
  8. Oregon
  9. Delaware
  10. North Dakota

Gambling-friendliness Rank

  1. South Dakota
  2. Nevada
  3. Montana
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Oregon
  6. Delaware
  7. West Virginia
  8. North Dakota
  9. New Jersey
  10. New Mexico