The man behind the latest push for change is Assemblyman Jim Wheeler. He introduced the bill on the first day of the newest legislative session in the Silver State.
Assembly Bill 86 latest attempt to lower gambling age
This is not the first time the state Assembly has considered lowering the gambling age. The idea came up in 2008, but nothing ever came of it.
Wheeler positions the bill as something to address the inherent unfairness in not letting legal adults gamble.
“I think if you’re old enough to go to Afghanistan, or Yemen, or Iraq and fight – if you’re old enough to drink in some states – if you’re old enough to vote – then you ought to be old enough to gamble, if that’s what you want to do,” Wheeler told local Nevada news.
Wheeler acknowledges the law change would results in substantially more carding of casino patrons on the part of employees like cocktail servers. He thinks the inconvenience is worth it.
Recent numbers from the Nevada Gaming Control Board indicate gambling revenues have remained steady with growth flat for almost a decade. A change in gambling age could provide a boost to gambling numbers, which represent an increasingly smaller percentage of casino revenues in the era of nightclub domination.
Initial feedback from casinos not positive
So far no casino executives have commented on the idea. The last time the idea came up, the industry leaders remained agnostic on the subject.
The local NBC news affiliate did obtain comment from the President of the Nevada Resort Association, Virginia Valentine:
“We are not aware of any compelling benefits from doing this, yet there are uncertain risks. Absent a clear policy rationale, we are opposed.”
Critics of the idea are quick to point out the impulsive nature of younger people could lead to a spike in problem gambling if the age is lowered.
Those who support the legislation are quick to point out several states already offer gambling to 18-year-olds. There are currently 21 states offering some form of gambling to the 18-21 set.
Most of these states allow horse racing wagers for the group and still restrict casino gambling to 21 and up.
More on Jim Wheeler
It may surprise some to know Wheeler is lax on the gambling age, but was a staunch opponent to last year’s measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the Silver State.
In an op-ed for the Reno Gazette-Journal, Wheeler noted the issues in fully ascertaining the effects of marijuana use on impairment. He also criticized the bureaucracy created by the new law, which was done under the guise of a libertarian l’aissez-faire approach to governing.