Will Nevada Be the Next State to Have a Lottery?

April 20, 2009

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia currently run lotteries, with a forty-third to start soon in Arkansas. Now it looks like the number might rise to forty-four within the next few years.

From Lottery Post:

The Nevada Assembly voted Wednesday for a lottery in the nation’s No. 1 gambling state, despite arguments that it would compete with slot machines and other games of chance.

AJR7 is the latest version of a plan that since the 1970s has failed about two dozen times to win legislative approval. The measure advanced on a 31-11 vote and now moves to the Senate.

The plan would have to be approved by lawmakers this year and again in 2011 and then go to a public vote.

“It’s time to have the people in Nevada decide whether or not they want a lottery,” said Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, the sponsor of the plan.

Opponents included Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, who said, “If there was ever a time for a lottery, I would say this is not the time. Our gaming industries in this state our hemorrhaging.”

“They’re such a large industry in this state, and I would hate to cannibalize them.”

Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, added that casinos have already been hit by the economic downturn and by a state smoking ban that went into effect in 2006.

“A lot of the small tavern owners and those types of operations are really hurting right now in this economy,” Cobb said.

But proponents of AJR7 said lawmakers should consider any way to raise revenue [emphasis added].

“Any way to raise revenue”? Hopefully no Nevada policymaker actually believes that.

The real question here is not how a state-run lottery would affect casino gambling, but how it would affect the state’s tax system. State-run lotteries are poor tax policy, and if Nevada lawmakers and voters want a lottery that badly, why not simply allow the companies that already run private gambling establishments in Nevada to run lotteries, subject to the same taxes casinos pay?


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