Legislator Attempts Noble (But Futile) Move to Give Nevada the Lottery

We’ve been beating this drum for as long as we can remember, but Nevada needs the lottery.

A Nevada assemblyperson, Cameron “C.H.” Miller has proposed an amendment to the Nevada Constitution that would open the door to repealing the state’s prohibition against lotteries.

To which we say both “Bravo!” and “Good luck with that!”

The odds are a smidge against it.

In a state where the only remarkable thing is Las Vegas, a place where gambling occasionally happens, why would the law prohibit public lotteries?

It doesn’t take an economist or gaming industry expert to see it’s the casinos.

While Nevada has tried to diversify, it’s still pretty much a one-trick pony, and that pony is the casino industry (also known as “tourism”).

The casinos run the show, and they perceive public lotteries as a diversion of revenue that should rightly be theirs.

Nevada politicians have long been beholden (sorry, deferential) to the casino industry, and anyone who dared question the lottery ban was given a swift kick to the campaign donations.

The bottom line is Nevada politicians lack the cojones to go up against the casinos, and prefer to treat Nevadans like children who must jump through hoops like driving a hour to Primm to get lottery tickets. Primm sits on the border of Nevada and California, so selling lottery tickets is legal in the Lotto Store at Primm.

The Lotto Store in Primm, it’s worth noting, sells more lottery tickets than any other lottery vendor in California.

When a jackpot hits $1 billion, the lines are long enough to reach the surface of the Moon.

For once, we aren’t just pulling fun facts out of our butt, UNLV did a paper on this subject. Yes, it’s a .pdf, but it was published in a different time.

The futility of his efforts have not stopped Cameron “C.H.” Miller, however.

A news release says, “Because of the current lottery ban, scores of Nevadans cross state lines into California and Arizona to purchase lottery tickets, sending millions of dollars in revenue out of state that could have benefited Nevadans.” So, pretty much what we said, but without the snark so people actually pay attention.

Miller has even had the audacity to suggest the lottery could help fund youth mental health services. Crazy talk!

In the release, Miller says, “The last few years have shown us how critical mental health care is and that our current infrastructure is woefully inadequate.”

Concur. We’re only beginning to see the fallout of misguided, detrimental policies during the pandemic. It’s likely to get worse.

Miller continues, “This constitutional amendment authorizing a lottery and dedicating the revenue to funding for youth mental health is a common sense 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.”

Here’s the entire news release about the proposed legislation.

It’s like when those 300 Spartans went up against 100,000 Persians. Hint: That didn’t end well.

For some context, Nevada’s lottery ban has been in place since 1864.

In 2009, a measure to overturn the lottery ban made it through the Nevada Assembly, but the move failed in the Senate.

Nevada is one of just five states without a lottery. Other losers who have bad politicians include Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii and Utah.

Beyond mental health concerns, lotteries contribute billions of dollars to education across the country. In California alone, the lottery has resulted in nearly $40 billion in education funding since 1985.

Nevada has one of the lowest-ranking education systems in the country. Actually, it’s the worst, but “lowest-ranking” makes it less awkward. Nevada ranks 49th in education in the nation, but Hawaii and the District of Columbia aren’t ranked, so Nevada is last.

There are some arguments against lotteries, but they tend to be what we refer to as “stupid.”

The whole “tax on the poor” thing is weak, especially when you consider Las Vegas has about 200,000 slots machines. There are lots of forms of gambling in Nevada, lotteries are just another form of gambling.

Another argument: “Not all the money goes to education!” Stop whining. You’re annoying everyone in your life, not just us.

To change the lottery ban in Nevada, these are the steps: 1) The proposed amendment to the Nevada Constitution would be initiated in the Nevada Legislature as a joint resolution. Otherwise referred to as the “not happening stage.” 2) The resolution would have to be approved with no alterations in two successive legislative sessions by both houses of the state legislature. Also known as the “when pigs fly stage.” 3) The proposed amendment would have to be put before Nevadans for a vote in a general election. (See #1 and #2, cue laughter.)

So, despite the fact Nevada isn’t getting a lottery, props to Cameron “C.H.” Miller for giving it a go, and probably being permanently banned from casinos by use of facial recognition software.

The fact Miller’s proposal is doomed is sad because Nevadans deserve to have the option to play the lottery as they do other games of chance. Lotteries are one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the U.S., and Las Vegas is missing out.

Casinos might be concerned lotteries are “competition,” but news flash, that ship has sailed. The monopoly on legal gambling is over as it’s now available across the country.

If casinos are worried about “competition,” maybe they should be better at what they do, including capturing the magic lotteries inspire. The magic that was once synonymous with Las Vegas, by the way.

Gambling is entertainment and is driven by dreams. That’s right, the lottery ban is crushing dreams.

We’ll keep fighting the good fight, despite the astronomical odds. (We’d guess the odds of this proposal passing are about the same as winning a Powerball jackpot, or one in 292.2 million.)

The truth is sometimes long shots pay off, and somebody recently won $2 billion in the lottery. California public schools got $156 million, by the way.

It’s time Nevada gets to play.