Lawmakers to Discuss Nevada Lottery Bill - 8 News NOW

Lawmakers to Discuss Nevada Lottery Bill

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LAS VEGAS - Whether you double down on blackjack, try to win millions on a slot machine or bet on your favorite sports team, gambling is everywhere in Nevada.

If you want to play a lottery in the Silver State, however, forget it. Nevada has had a law on the books outlawing lotteries since 1864.

Thousands of Nevadans, meanwhile, flock to California and Arizona whenever state lotteries build large jackpots. The same held true this week, as the Mega Millions jackpot eclipsed $300 million.

As the jackpot swells, so does a call for a lottery in the Silver State. Numerous attempts to create a lottery in Nevada have failed over the years.

"The voters in Nevada have shown broad support for it, but it has always died," said Assemblywoman Debbie Smith (Washoe-D).

Many Las Vegas residents who traveled to Arizona on Thursday to buy lottery tickets say they would support a lottery in Nevada.

"I'd love it. It'd be so much easier than to travel," Las Vegas resident Ronnie West said.

"A couple of bucks are worth the dream," said Las Vegas resident Jesse Chaidez.

"I'd buy tickets," Las Vegas resident Nadine Russo said.

The latest effort to create a state lottery, Senate Joint Resolution 1, is scheduled for a committee hearing March 29. The bill would require all lottery proceeds be distributed to Nevada school districts in a fair and equitable manner.

Read Senate Joint Resolution 1

The measure is sponsored on behalf of the Nevada Youth Legislature. "This bill does not establish a lottery. All this bill does is amend the state constitution to allow the Legislature to establish a lottery," said Nevada Youth Legislature Chairman Zhan Okuda-Lim.

Supporters say a lottery could pay off for our struggling schools. "I think a lottery would be a real viable option for bringing in additional revenue into the county and the state," said Clark County Education Association President Ruben Murillo.

The gaming industry opposes a state lottery, believing a dollar spent on a lottery ticket is a dollar not spent on the casino floor. The industry may have to lobby harder to kill the bill this session.

"I think, at this point, given our revenues, we're probably open to a lot of options that we weren't open to in 2009," said Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea (35th District-R).

When asked about the lottery measure, MGM Resorts said in a statement, "Our children's education should not be based on how many people play a lottery game each month. We need far more serious proposals to properly fund the state's real and growing needs."

A spokesperson for Boyd Gaming said the company continues to oppose a state lottery in Nevada. Caesars Entertainment could not be reached for comment. Representatives for Station Casinos and the Nevada Resort Association were unable to provide interviews.

SJR 1 must pass two legislative sessions before it goes before voters for final approval.

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