Nevada Lottery Legislation Removing the Prohibition on State Lotteries, Heading Back to Legislature in 2025

June 6, 2023 | Legislature

NEVADA (Nevada lawmakers last week took an important procedural step to eventually give voters a second chance to repeal the state’s 159-year-old constitutional ban on lotteries.

The 12-8 vote in the Senate means AJR5, a proposed constitutional amendment removing the prohibition on state lotteries, will get a required second run through the 2025 legislative session.

If passed again, the measure goes to the 2026 general election ballot.

The Nevada Independent reported gaming industry advisor Brendan Bussmann said that’s an outcome Nevada’s gaming industry does not want to see. He believes voters would pass a lottery ballot question. Nevada is one of five states without a statewide lottery.

“There is clear popularity for the measure in a gaming state and one that will be hard to starve off by the industry should it make it through the Legislature in 2025,” said Bussmann, managing partner of Las Vegas-based B2 Global.

Assemblyman C.H. Miller (D-North Las Vegas) is banking on that support.

He sponsored the constitutional amendment and was gratified by the Senate’s vote and passage in the Assembly in April. But he knows tactics will have to switch in 2025.

“It would be helpful going into the next session if there were some more structure around what [a lottery] could potentially look like,” Miller said in an interview Monday at the Legislature. Miller has proposed that lottery revenue would be directed toward youth mental health programs.

“But that’s not what is even being considered right now,” Miller said. “What’s being considered is if the people of Nevada want to amend their constitution to allow for a lottery.”

According to the California Lottery, the state’s two largest lottery ticket retailers are operated by Nevada gaming companies — Truckee Gaming’s Gold Ranch Casino & RV Resort in Verdi and Affinity Gaming, which has three casinos in Primm. Both outlets are on the California side of the state line, but their primary customers are Nevada residents.

“We know we’re losing money as a state to other states, so why not recapture that money and target it toward something that is going to benefit our future?” Miller said.

According to a 2012 UNLV research paper, there have been more than two dozen legislative attempts to implement a Nevada lottery, starting in 1887. In 1899, state lawmakers passed a lottery proposal but the measure was defeated in the 1901 session. The last two efforts in 2011 and 2015 never made it out of committee.

By: Howard Stutz

SOURCES: The Nevada Independent / Indy Gaming newsletter.
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