As state budgets strain under huge debt loads, they are counting increasingly on "sin taxes," one of the few reliable sources of revenue in these uncertain economic times.
States have profited from the public's voracious appetite for easy money (gambling), nicotine (smoking) and booze (alcohol) for years. Some are more successful at it than others. A few states generate less than 1% of their revenue from preying on their residents' vices while sin accounts for between 5% and nearly 13% of the budgets of others. Some of the difference can be chalked up to varying rates of addiction, but aggressive tax policy also plays a part. Pennsylvania makes the greatest percent of its revenue from gaming taxes of any state. It charges a 55% tax on slot machine proceeds. Conversely, Las Vegas collects only 8%.
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