New Proposal Would Create Nevada Lottery

Written By Marc Meltzer on February 21, 2023
Proposal at Nevada statehouse would legalize the lottery

Legislation to amend the Nevada Constitution would bring the lottery to The Silver State. Along with Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi and Utah, Nevada has never had a lottery system.

Nevadans wanting to buy scratch tickets or play Powerball or Mega Millions must travel to California or Arizona. That would change under a proposal from Assemblyman Cameron C.H. Miller, D-North Las Vegas, who wants a lottery to pay for youth mental health services in the state.

Miller wants to keep lottery money in Nevada

Nevada is the top gambling destination in the US. Millions of people flock to Nevada every year to play at one of the hundreds of casinos in the state. Online gambling and sports betting are also popular. A lottery system, surprisingly, has never gotten off the ground in the state.

Approving a Nevada lottery would certainly alter how and where residents, and tourists, spend their recreational income. Of course, that is probably the main reason why Nevada doesn’t have a lottery.

Assembly Democrats released a statement outlining their arguments in favor of the lottery proposal.

In 2022, UNLV analyzed numerous studies about mental health services in the US. Nevada ranked last for mental health care in the US. The state ranks 39th for access to mental health care services.

Miller wants to change those dismal numbers with his proposal.

“The last few years have shown us how critical mental health care is and that our current infrastructure is woefully inadequate. This constitutional amendment authorizing a lottery and dedicating the revenue to funding for youth mental health is a commonsense solution that will help the many Nevada youth who are battling mental health challenges, just like I did as a child. Right now, we are sending millions of dollars across the border to neighboring states. It is time to fully invest in Nevadans and pass this constitutional amendment.”

Why Nevada doesn’t have a lottery

Lotteries have been illegal in the state since the Nevada Constitution was ratified in 1864. There have been numerous attempts to change this over the years. All have failed.

As noted above, Nevada doesn’t offer a lottery because there’s already several ways to gamble in the state. There are more than 400 casinos in Nevada. Additionally, there’s gambling available at retail establishments such as gas stations, supermarkets and taverns across the state.

Most lawmakers in the past have reasoned that the ubiquity of gambling in Nevada should satisfy residents’ gambling needs. That’s not quite the case, as thousands of Nevada residents head to California and Arizona when there’s a huge Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot available.

Nevada casino operators continue to fight against a lottery. Representatives have said a lottery would hurt their businesses, which would result in a hit on jobs and tax revenue going to the state.

Nevada casinos raked in $14.8 billion in gambling revenue in 2022, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

It would be years before a lottery could launch in Nevada

Don’t get too excited about buying a lottery ticket at your local convenient store anytime soon.

The measure must pass two successive sessions of the Nevada Legislature. Since the proposal would amend the Nevada Constitution, the lottery could not gain approval until 2026 at the soonest.

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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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