LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – It’s a gamble most Nevadans know, having to run to the state line to buy a lottery ticket because they aren’t allowed to.
Within years, customers may have a new lottery to partake in with a lesser drive, though it’s not without changes to the state constitution.
At least 30 failed attempts since 1975, Democratic Assemblyman Cameron “C.H.” Miller spearheaded efforts in 2023 to eliminate lottery prohibition in the state constitution (article 4, section 24), which was ratified 160 years ago.
“Nevada is a state that can reinvent pretty much everything,” Miller said during an interview inside the 8 News Now studios Thursday morning. “Another set of 63 legislators have to decide to move this legislation forward.”
The first step has already been taken AJR5 passed during the 2023 legislative session, which proposes the state constitution amendment.
Miller said it needs to pass two consecutive sessions – the next session is in 2025 – without any changes.
Pending this second passage, a majority of Nevada voters must then approve the change in the 2026 general election.
Miller predicts it could take up to three years after this vote before tickets are sold state-side, meaning, a lottery could be established and operational before 2029 if all goes as planned.
The primary pushback is the potential effects on Nevada’s well-established gaming industry, which brought in $14.8 billion in revenue in 2022 alone.
“This is the same gaming industry that pays most of the taxes in our state,” Republican Assemblywoman Jill Dickman said during an April 13 workshop on AJR5. “(A lottery) usually turns out to be sort of a voluntary tax on poor people.”
But, Miller argues that Nevadans who flock to California or Arizona are giving millions of dollars to those states when they could be used to fund services in Nevada.
California, for one, has generated over $41.5 billion for its public schools since 1985 through its state lottery.
He also pointed to casino giants, such as Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, that operate in Nevada and other states with established lotteries.
“Everyone’s operating already in states where there are lotteries. They’re doing fine. They’re doing well,” Miller said. “The operation of a lottery could compete with their business, and it’s my position that it shouldn’t be a competition. We can be partners together.”
What a Nevada lottery would look like, which state services would benefit from revenue, and how much revenue would go to these services remain unclear until a separate legislative process after the potential 2026 general election vote.
Though Miller has advocated for youth mental health services to benefit, the designation must be established in future law.
Ultimately, the decision may land in voters’ hands.
“I think the people who want to gamble at casinos like the environment, whereas this is a completely different experience. So, I don’t think it would take away at all,” Nevada Resident Nicole Cassill said Thursday afternoon while purchasing power ball tickets at the California border.
It is also unclear if tickets would be available in Nevada grocery stores, as they are in other states, due to the strict Nevada Gaming Commission guidelines.