(Dec. 26) -- Some state lawmakers say if Nevada had a state lottery and participated in Powerball, the Silver State would be the big winner.
On Christmas Day, Rose's Den near Kingman, Ariz., was packed with Southern Nevadans hoping Santa would be extra kind this year.
While they didn't win the big bucks, the Grand Canyon state did, pocketing thousands of dollars used to fund state programs.
Nevada Assemblyman Wendell Williams says that's money that could have been used here in Nevada to help solve the state's $800 million budget crisis. He and many other state lawmakers say now is the time to consider a state lottery.
"It may not be the answer, but I think at this point in our state in this upcoming legislative session, I don't think anything's off limits," Williams said.
The Governor's Task Force on Tax Policy also recently recommended a lottery. The Task Force estimates a lottery could bring Nevada more than $50 million a year.
Williams says that would be great news for taxpayers: "My position when it comes to the budget next session and the economy is to look at anything that doesn't impose a direct burden on taxpayers' pockets."
A lottery proposal was introduced during the last legislative session two years ago but failed. That's good news for the casino industry, which is afraid a lottery could cut into their profits.
"What I would say to my friends in the casino industry is if this is not the answer or if this doesn't help, then of course join in and find some answers and some solutions we can use in place of this," Williams said.
Williams says the state could even benefit from tourists wanting to get in on the action.
The Nevada State Constitution would have to be changed to allow a lottery. That's done by passing the bill in two different legislatures, then approval in a public vote, so the soonest we could see a lottery here would be in five years.
What are other lawmakers saying about the idea? Most of them at least like the idea of looking into it. They say with our state in such hard times, we don't have the option of not considering a state lottery, or any other viable idea for that matter. The one legislator I spoke to who was against a lottery was State Assemblyman David Goldwater, who only saw it as a type of Band-aid solution.
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