Public Choice

, 142:69 | Cite as

Determinants of the probability and timing of commercial casino legalization in the United States

  • Peter T. CalcagnoEmail author
  • Douglas M. Walker
  • John D. Jackson


The adoption of lotteries by state governments has received significant attention in the economics literature, but the issue of casino adoption has been neglected by researchers. Casino gambling is a relatively new industry in the United States, outside Nevada and New Jersey. As of 2007, 11 states had established commercial casinos; several more states are considering legalization. We analyze the factors that determine a state’s decision to legalize commercial casinos, using data from 1985 to 2000, a period which covers the majority of states that have adopted commercial casinos. We use a tobit model to examine states’ fiscal conditions, political alignments, intrastate and interstate competitive environments, and demographic characteristics, which yields information on the probability and timing of adoptions. The results suggest a public choice explanation that casino legalization is due to state fiscal stress, to efforts to keep gambling revenues (and the concomitant gambling taxes) within the state, and to attract tourism or “export taxes.”


Casinos Casino adoption Legalized gambling Fiscal stress Tax revenues 

JEL Classification

D72 L83 H7 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter T. Calcagno
    • 1
    Email author
  • Douglas M. Walker
    • 1
  • John D. Jackson
    • 2
  1. 1.College of CharlestonCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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