Move To Lower Gambling Age to 18 in Nevada Failing To Gain Traction

Posted By Jessica Welman on February 27, 2017

[toc]Nevada Assemblymember Jim Wheeler’s attempt to lower the state’s gambling age from 21 to 18 made headlines when announced, but it is failing to make waves in the state legislature.

Members of both the casino industry and the Assembly are asking why this law is needed, effectively arguing “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Wheeler’s motives rooted in fairness

One of the first questions asked about the legislation is how it could economically benefit the state to allow the younger demographic on the gambling floor. It turns out that consideration was not part of Wheeler’s motivation.

A report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal revealed Wheeler proposed the legislation, known as Assembly Bill 86, because he could not answer a question posed to him by a veteran.

The veteran wanted to know why someone between the ages of 18-20 can serve their country and fight in battle but cannot gamble. Wheeler had no good answer, so he set about putting together the bill.

Multiple sources say NV gambling bill has no support

This is not the first time a bill aimed at lowering the gambling age has been introduced in the Silver State. With many other states and tribal nations offering 18-and-up casinos, it is not a completely far-fetched idea.

When the idea has come up in the past, members of the casino industry generally remained agnostic on the matter. This time around, many industry spokespeople were quick to strike the idea down.

Nevada Resort Association president Virginia Valentine spoke with a local news outlet on the subject, saying, “We are not aware of any compelling benefits from doing this, yet there are uncertain risks. Absent a clear policy rationale, we are opposed.”

Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo echoed Valentine’s sentiments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“The industry has not come to us with any wants for dropping this. Everyone’s happy with 21 years of age.”

Change would come with little economic upside

Wheeler conceded a big issue with the measure is the increased effort on the part of Nevada casino employees verifying identification to differentiate whether or not a patron can drink alcohol.

Wheeler believes this requires a little extra effort on the casino staff. Others think the added effort and exposure to underage drinking is lacking the upside to make it happen.

Richard Velotta penned a column for the Review-Journal opposing the measure. He points out most people between 18 and 20 are generally lacking a large amount of disposable income. With that in mind, the economic benefits of the law are minimal.

With no one coming up with ways the laws could benefit the state and the law coming with its fair share of drawbacks, it appears Wheeler’s proposal is going nowhere.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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