Nevada Lottery Bill Advances, but Players Should Continue Planning to Drive to Primm

Posted on: April 20, 2023, 08:28h. 

Last updated on: April 20, 2023, 03:13h.

A Nevada lottery bill made progress this week in Carson City but the chances of lottery players being able to purchase Mega Millions and Powerball tickets inside the Silver State anytime soon remain slim.

Nevada lottery casino gaming Las Vegas
Lottery players wait in line to purchase their tickets at The Lotto Store at Primm just across the Nevada border in California. A Nevada lottery bill is making some traction in Carson City, but the odds remain long that legal lottery sales will come to the state. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada and Las Vegas are synonymous with gaming, as the Strip and the state’s casinos include some of the world’s most recognizable resort destinations. But perhaps surprising to some is that Nevada is one of only five states that doesn’t have a lottery.

Assistant Majority Assembly Floor Leader Cameron “CH” Miller (D-North Las Vegas) and many of his Assembly colleagues want to end Nevada’s prohibition on lottery gaming. In February, Miller introduced a joint resolution to the Nevada Legislature that begins the long legislative road required for a constitutional amendment.

Miller’s Assembly Joint Resolution 5 proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to allow the state to create a lottery and sell games of chance tickets.

The statute cleared the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections in March. A lottery bill even clearing a legislative committee was unprecedented before AJR5, but the resolution’s history-making didn’t end there.

On Monday, the full Nevada Assembly voted in favor of the lottery bill with a 26-15 vote. The measure now moves to the Senate and the upper chamber’s Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections for further consideration.

Gaming at Odds with Lottery

There’s a reason why Nevada is one of only a handful of states without a lottery, and that’s the state’s powerful casino gaming interests. The casinos say a lottery would hurt their resort businesses, resulting in job losses, reduced tax revenue, and threaten Nevada’s economy.

Lottery proponents like Miller say those myths have been dispelled in the more than two-dozen other states with casinos and a lottery.

Many of our gaming partners in our state also operate in different states, successfully, that also have lotteries,” Miller said of lotteries and casinos coexisting. “We’re in a unique position to be able to take the greatest gaming minds that are in the world and create something uniquely different by bringing our gaming partners to the table and partnering with them on what a lottery could look like in our state.”

Opponents, however, are seemingly unwilling to collaborate on a lottery product.

“The lottery would be in direct competition with our gaming industry,” said Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Washoe). Adding to Dickman’s reasoning for her opposition is her belief that “lotteries usually turn out to be a voluntary tax on poor people.”

Marathon Process

Even if the Nevada Senate were to pass AJR5 without changes, the measure wouldn’t immediately go to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s (R) desk. Instead, the statute would be redirected back to the Assembly in two years for consideration during the chamber’s 2025 legislative session.

If the Assembly were to pass the lottery bill in 2025, it would again need Senate approval. If those steps happen, Nevadans would then vote on amending their state constitution to permit a state-governed lottery through a 2026 referendum.

If a simple majority of the referendum is in support, Nevada lawmakers would be authorized to form a lottery and consider joining interstate games like Mega Millions and Powerball.