Nevada Legislators Urged to Support Lottery Resolution

Nevada is a gambling Mecca but surprisingly Nevada has no state lottery. Even more amazing lotteries are banned by the state’s constitution. In the past all lottery proposals have failed in the legislature. Many believe the legislature’s reluctance to establish a lottery is because of influence from entrenched gambling interests that feat the competition a lottery would bring. Recently a young high school student urges the Nevada legislature to pass a resolution that would allow Nevadans to vote to establish a state lottery.  16 year old Daniel Waqar told lawmakers that while a lottery would not solve all of Nevada’s budget problems it would bring in $40 to $60 million a year that could be used for education in the state.  Waqar stated, “Millions of dollars that fund education in California and Arizona would stay here.”

At the present time Nevadans that want to play Mega Millions or Powerball must cross state lines taking millions of dollars out of the state. Nevadans routinely travel to California and Arizona to purchase lottery tickets. The gambling industry has long opposed the establishment of a state lottery but no representatives were present at the hearing of the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee. To change the state’s constitution an election is required. Committee Chairman David Parks, D-Las Vegas said that he may hold another hearing on the issue and planned to conduct a vote on Senate Joint Resolution 1 during an April 14th workshop.

The Nevada legislature has a very long history of rejecting lottery proposals. Parks said he has mixed emotions about the establishment of a lottery. Parks grew up in New Hampshire which established a lottery over 50 years ago to provide money for education. Parks stated, “The revenue projections for education never materialized,” which is why he has mixed emotions about the proposed legislation. Although representatives of the gambling industry did not testify an assortment of anti gambling and conservative groups testified.

Independent American Party President John Wagner testified, “The No. 1 industry in Nevada is gaming. The state should not be in business competing against the No. 1 business.”  Lynn Chapman and Janine Hansen lobbyists for the far right Nevada Eagle Forum trotted out the worn out arguments about gambling ‘addiction’ and said poor people should not be gambling.  Because the law requires an amendment to the state’s constitution the bill must be approved during this legislative session and again in 2013. If successful the bill would be placed on the ballot in 2014.