States take in $50 billion-plus from ‘sin taxes’ in 2011, report says

Poker players cast their bets during a hand of Texas Hold 'em at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
(Julie Jacobson / Associated Press)

States in 2011 took in more than $50 billion from so-called sin taxes, or taxes or other fees levied on goods and services such as cigarettes, alcohol and casinos, according to research firm 24/7 Wall Street.

Some states profit more from drinking, smoking and gambling than others, according to the report, which culled data from the Census Bureau and the American Gaming Assn.

Nevada, unsurprisingly for the home of Las Vegas, got nearly 6% of its state revenues from sin taxes. Gambling brought in the most cash, with tobacco and liquor following far behind.


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Rhode Island came in second, with 5.4% of state revenue coming from vice-related activities. Nearly 4% of that was from its lottery system. The state also charges $3.50 in excise tax on every 20-pack of cigarettes, one of the highest rates in the country.

Delaware rounds out the top three with 5% of its total revenue from sin taxes. It’s biggest moneymaker also was its lottery system, but it also raised a lot of cash from tobacco taxes. In 2011, for example, it took in nearly $130 million.

The report found that gambling-, lottery- and casino-related levies are almost always the biggest revenue generators when it comes to sin taxes. In five states, money from casino taxes made up more than 2% of overall revenue.


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