The United States has close to 1,500 gambling facilities that range from casino resorts, poker rooms to pari-mutuel facilities where events like Jai Alai, horse racing and greyhound races take place. Gambling, also called gaming, comes in several categories, according to the American Gaming Association. These are the card rooms, commercial casinos, charitable games and bingo, Indian casinos, legal bookmarking, lotteries and pari-mutuel wagering.
Americans gamble mostly on casino games. This is evident in the estimated 450 commercial casinos in existence in the U.S. today that produce a yearly state tax revenue of $4.74 billion as of May 2005. However, only 11 states accommodate these commercial casinos operated by private companies – Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Nevada is the most popular casino destination in the entire U.S. territory.
Lotteries are also popular among Americans. Most states have lotteries that are either sponsored by the state government or cover several states (multi-states). Multi-state lotteries usually have bigger jackpots because of a larger number of tickets sold. The biggest of this kind are the Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries which have larger numbers of participating states. Florida has its own state lottery and does not take part in multi-state lotteries. Contestants in lotteries normally match their chosen numbers with a winning set. The winning combination of five to eight numbers ranging from 1 to 50 are drawn using an automatic ball tumbler machine.
There are some state lotteries that include other games such as those using a scratchcard. These cards usually have opaque areas which when scratched, reveals a winning number or statement plus the amount won. In other games of this format, a contestant has to pick which parts of a card to scratch to match winning amounts or play another type of game.
Betting on sports events is another favorite gambling pastime of Americans. Big sports events like the Super Bowl or the World Series involve billions of dollars of wagers every year. However, only the state of Nevada allows betting on individual sporting events because of the possibility of fixing or the use of bribes and other compensation to influence the result.
Horse racing has also been a famous legal sports gambling. In the U.S., more than 150 racetracks were reported to be operating as of the early part of year 2000. The pari-mutuel (mutual stake) betting system is used in these tracks in which all bets on a race are placed in a pool and divided among winning bettors.
Dog racing is also a legal form of gambling in some states that utilizes the pari-mutuel system.