Nevada Lottery Bill Progresses, But Players Should Still Prepare to Drive to Primm

A Nevada lottery bill progressed this week in Carson City, but the likelihood of lottery players being able to purchase Mega Millions and Powerball tickets inside the Silver State in the near future remains minimal.

Lottery players line up to buy their tickets at The Lotto Store at Primm just across the Nevada border in California. A Nevada lottery bill is making some headway in Carson City, but the odds remain low that legal lottery sales will come to the state. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal )

Nevada and Las Vegas are synonymous with gaming, as the Strip and state’s casinos include some of the world’s most notable resort destinations. Yet, what may be surprising to some is that Nevada is one of only five states that does not have a lottery.

Assistant Majority Assembly Floor Leader Cameron “CH” Miller (D-North Las Vegas) and many of his Assembly colleagues want to end Nevada’s ban on lottery gaming . In February, Miller presented a joint resolution to the Nevada Legislature that begins the long legislative procedure required for a constitutional amendment.

Miller’s Assembly Joint Resolution 5 proposes to alter the Nevada Constitution to allow the state to create a lottery and sell tickets for games of chance.

The statute cleared the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections in March. A lottery bill even surpassing a legislative committee was unprecedented before AJR5, yet the resolution’s making history didn’t end there.

On Monday, the full Nevada Assembly voted favorably on the lottery bill with a 26-15 vote. The measure now moves to the Senate and the upper chamber’s Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections for further examination.

Gaming at Odds With Lottery

There’s a reason why Nevada is one of only a handful of states without a lottery, and that’s the state’s powerful casino gaming industry . The casinos say a lottery would hurt their resort businesses, which would result in job losses, reduced tax revenue, and overall threaten Nevada’s economy.

But lottery supporters like Miller claim those misconceptions have been disproved in the more than two-dozen other states that have both casinos and a lottery.

Many of our gaming partners in our state also operate in different states, successfully, that also have lotteries,” Miller said of lotteries and casinos coexisting. “We’re in a unique position to be able to take the greatest gaming minds that are in the world and create something uniquely different by bringing our gaming partners to the table and associating with them on what a lottery could look like in our state.”

Opponents, however, are seemingly unwilling to collaborate on a lottery product.

“The lottery would be in direct opposition with our gaming industry,” said Assemblywoman Jill Dickman (R-Washoe). Adding to Dickman’s reasoning for her opposition is that she believes “lotteries usually turn out to be a voluntary tax on lower-income people.”

Lengthy Process

Even if the Nevada Senate were to pass AJR5 without changes, the measure would not immediately go to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s (R) desk. Instead, the statute would be redirected back to the Assembly in two years for consideration during the chamber’s 2025 legislative session.

If the Assembly were to pass the lottery bill in 2025, it would then again require Senate approval. Should those steps occur, Nevadans would then vote on amending their state constitution to permit a state-run lottery through a 2026 ballot referendum.

If a majority of the referendum is in favor, Nevada legislators would be authorized to establish a lottery and contemplate joining interstate games like Mega Millions and Powerball.