Study: which state copes best with defeat?

Publish Date: 22/03/2024
Fact checked by: Josh Schwartz

Participation is more important than winning? Yeah, right! A whopping 49% of Americans typically get upset when they lose a game, as revealed by a recent study conducted by Captain Gambling. But who plays their cards right when it comes to handling their losses? We investigated which state copes with defeat the best and can be crowned the real winner in the game of losing.

Some of our key findings:

  • Arkansas tops the list with 83% of residents getting upset after losing a game. Residents of Iowa and Utah stay the calmest, with only 17% losing their temper.
  • 15% of Americans have found themselves in a fight after losing a game.
  • Intentionally letting children win? Definitely not, according to over 1 in 10 Americans. However, 57% confess to occasionally doing so.

1 in 2 Americans can't handle losing

A cozy game night sounds like a blast. But it’s not always all fun and games. A convincing 1 in 2 Americans say they usually get upset after losing a game. Among women, this percentage is 44%, while 51% of men say they get upset. It doesn’t just end there. 15% of respondents have ended up in a fight with their fellow players after a game loss. However, when it comes to playing with kids, we seem to ease up a bit. When asked if they usually let children win during a game, 57% admit to doing so occasionally. Additionally, 30% tend to do it most of the time. For 13%, the age of their opponent doesn't matter, as they say they don't let children win on purpose.

83% of Arkansans lose it after losing

Naturally, we also looked into where in the United States the most frustrated players reside. Arkansas takes the lead. There, a whopping 83% say they get upset when they're beaten in a game. Louisiana follows closely behind with 80%. The third spot on the list goes to Connecticut, where 67% of residents lose their cool as soon as it's game over.

The most peaceful states

If you prefer to keep the peace after a game, head to Utah and Iowa. Only 17% of residents there say they get upset when they lose. That makes Utahns and Iowans the calmest folks around. New Mexico ranks as the second calmest state. There, only 2 out of 10 residents find it difficult to cope with defeat.

How do we express ourselves when we lose?

Accepting defeat is quite an art. Because what is your first reaction when you check the US sports news and find out that your team has been beaten in a game? 33% of Americans say they stay calm. This is also the most common reaction in states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Alabama, among others. But there are indeed differences per state. For instance, Louisiana is the only state where the primary reaction of the majority of residents would be to deny their loss, while most residents of Connecticut simply walk away when they're defeated in a game. Making a joke about it is the most common reaction in 13 states, including Florida, Indiana, and Texas. However, in states like Colorado, Iowa, and Georgia, they don't just leave it at that. There, the majority say they ask for a rematch once they've lost a game.


Arkansas not only tops the list for the highest percentage of residents who get upset after losing a game, but their typical response to defeat is also quite resolute: most would opt for a rematch. In that sense, there's some good news for Arkansas as they appear to lead the competition this time, albeit for managing losses less effectively.

However, Louisiana also scores pretty high. 8 out of 10 Louisianians get upset when they lose. When you consider that denying their loss is the primary reaction for Louisiana residents, it's fair to say that the Pelican State struggles somewhat with losing. The same holds true for Connecticut, where the majority walks away after a loss, and a significant 67% of residents get angry when they lose a game.

On the other hand, Utahns seem to handle their losses the best. Not only does Utah have the lowest percentage of residents getting upset after losing, along with Iowa, but also, while the primary reaction in Iowa is asking for a rematch, the majority in Utah laughs off their loss by making a joke about it. So, when it comes to losing like a winner, Utah can be crowned the real champ!


In March 2024, Captain Gambling conducted a nationwide survey involving 2,137 Americans. Of all the participants, 38% were female, 60% male, 1% identified as non-binary, and 1% identified as other. The average age of respondents was 41 years.

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