Nevada Finally Gets A Lottery…Sorta…

Written By Marc Meltzer on June 18, 2021

Nevada finally has a lottery! Well, sorta. This isn’t the kind of statewide game of chance lottery many have been craving to play for years. Yesterday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Vax Nevada Days.

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with Immunize Nevada will give away $5 million in cash and prizes to Nevada residents 12 years of age and older that have received a COVID-19 vaccine. The grand prize is $1 million.

Using money and prizes to incentivize people to get vaccinated isn’t an original idea. Ohio has already awarded four residents with million-dollar prizes. Unlike Ohio, anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine will automatically be registered to win a prize.

The drawing will account for everyone vaccinated. Those who have already received a COVID-19 vaccine are already entered to win a prize. Those yet to receive a shot can become eligible for a prize. There’s no registration required, as the state has access to vaccination records.

Lottery to incentivize more vaccinations

Nevada has at least two good reasons to incentivize vaccinations. The health and safety of residents is paramount. Additionally, more casino workers receiving a vaccination will encourage hesitant tourists to return to the state once again. This effort should help with both.

The state’s largest taxpayers are the casino operators. While $5 million of taxpayer money may be a lot, tourists returning to Las Vegas help to replenish those funds and more. Additionally, this should help make the state safer from COVID-19.

Sisolak said:

“While we’re making progress with more than 50% of our eligible residents at least partially vaccinated, we must do more to protect our State. This vaccine incentive promotion is our way to give vaccination efforts an extra boost and encourage all Nevadans to get their shot so our State can recover and build back stronger.”

$5 million in cash and prizes

Every Nevada resident that has been vaccinated is eligible to receive a cash or prize from the state. Here’s a breakdown of the prize pool available:

  • Grand prize of $1 million cash (Nevadans 18+)
  • 149 cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $250,000 (Nevadans 18+)
  • 135 college savings accounts for post-secondary education ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 (Nevadans 12-17)
  • Nevada state park annual entrance permits (all Nevadans)
  • Nevada fishing licenses (all Nevadans)

There will be eight (8) drawings to win prizes. Winners will be announced every Thursday from July 8 through Aug. 26. The million-dollar grand prize drawing will take place on Aug. 26.

Slot machine manufacturer to oversee the lottery

The state doesn’t have a traditional lottery system to use for Vax Nevada Days. International Game Technology (IGT) is donating its time and technology to ensure the drawings are conducted in a fair and legal manner.

IGT will assist the program, but will not receive personally identifiable information. All entries will be anonymous.

“We are excited to leverage IGT’s expertise in secure prize draw procedures and project administration to help ensure the integrity of the important Vax Nevada Days health initiative,” said IGT Senior Vice President of Corporate Public Affairs Scott Gunn.

He continued, “IGT has a vast history and large employee base in Nevada, and we’re glad to play our part in enabling a successful campaign to protect the health and well-being of its citizens.”

IGT and other gaming companies in Nevada have the technology to hold lotteries and drawings. Nevada gaming companies provide lottery products around the country outside of Nevada. Inside the state, these companies already assist casinos with drawings for loyalty club members.

One important note for prize winners. Since there could be scammers, all winners will be notified by an official representative of Immunize Nevada. The organization will use the contact information within an individual’s Nevada WebIZ record.

Will Nevada legalize a state lottery?

The gaming industry continues to change around the US. The most recent change is the expansion of legal sports betting in different states. Currently, 20 states have legal sports betting with more on the way. Gaming is changing drastically outside of Nevada.

Gambling is ubiquitous everywhere in Nevada from casinos to gas stations. This is why, in part, Nevada doesn’t have a lottery. In fact, Nevada is one of five states in the country without a lottery.

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cause enough of a financial deficit for the state to expedite legalizing a lottery. The lottery would provide a financial boost when needed.

Nevada residents are currently heading to stores on the borders with Arizona and California anytime there’s a large Mega Millions jackpot. That’s money that could stay inside state lines if the lottery was legal in the Silver State.

Maybe Vax Nevada Days will be such a success that the state starts looking for new ways to use drawings. A lottery for huge cash prizes would offer residents another form of entertainment. This could lead to more tax dollars for the state to use on education, infrastructure, and more.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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