8 April 2023
Every year, 45 U.S. states rake in millions of dollars in revenue from a simple and effective program — the lottery. Unfortunately, Nevada is just one of just five states that currently does not take advantage of this opportunity to raise revenue and fund key initiatives that would help everyday families. That could change if Assemblyman Cameron “C.H.” Miller has his way.
Earlier in the month, Assemblyman Miller introduced AJR5, which would allow Nevada’s voters to decide if they want to repeal the state’s long-standing ban on a lottery.
Nevada is one of the only states in the nation that has a ban on the lottery built into the constitution. Article 4, Section 24, of Nevada’s constitution states that “no lottery shall be authorized by this state nor may lottery tickets be sold.” This provision has effectively prohibited any form of a lottery from being implemented since Nevada’s founding in 1864 and our state has missed out on untold millions of dollars as a result.
However, despite the in-state ban on the lottery, Nevadans continue to purchase lottery tickets from other states, sending revenue out-of-state to benefit others. Residents of Southern Nevada, in particular, are familiar with the thousands of Nevadans who flock to lottery stores just across the border in cities like Primm each time the jackpot makes the news.
Oftentimes, Nevadans are so eager to participate in the lottery that they will wait in hours-long lines and in scorching temperatures to purchase their tickets. One report in 2016 estimated that a majority of the $13 million in revenue taken in at the Primm Valley Lotto Store alone came from Nevadans. That’s millions of dollars flooding out across our borders and into other states’ coffers.
In a state that is famous for our casino and gaming industry, it is past time that we enact a lottery and create yet another source of revenue that can be used to fund our education system and youth mental health programs.
With a limited number of options to raise funds, Nevada can no longer afford to lose out on this revenue. The last few years have shown us how critical mental health care is and that our current infrastructure is woefully inadequate. Nevada’s mental health system is desperately in need of additional funding to foster improvement. A UNLV study conducted last year ranked Nevada last in the nation for overall mental health and overall youth mental health and 39th for mental health care access.
By establishing a lottery and directing those funds toward youth mental health programs, Nevada will take a large step forward in becoming a more welcoming state for those who struggle with mental health challenges.
As someone who has my own personal struggles with mental health, and knows many others who have as well, improving Nevada’s mental health services to ensure they can provide adequate care is an issue that is deeply personal to me, and the countless others who have had to navigate it. It makes it all the more urgent to support this measure, not just as a source of new revenue, but for what that revenue can tangibly deliver, in the form of better outcomes for our families, friends and community members who depend upon mental health care as well.
AJR5, Assemblyman Miller’s proposed constitutional amendment, is a common-sense solution that would bring millions of dollars in revenue back home. By amending the constitution to allow for a lottery, we can use that new revenue to boost desperately needed funding for our youth mental health programs and fully invest in Nevadans.
Annette Magnus was born and raised in Las Vegas. She is a second generation Nevadan with family roots in the local Culinary Union. Annette is the executive director of Battle Born Progress, which is the communications hub for the progressive community in Nevada. She recently announced she will leave the organization in July.