I normally don’t quote from the New York Times (where I worked, for about two years, as a reporter), but I couldn’t help commenting on a report in the Sunday paper about Nevada moving towards a lottery.
For years there has been talk of this. The Casinos were against it. But the state…was losing money because players would go to retailers on the state line and play the California Lottery when jackpots were big. One example of that is NOW, when the Mega Millions game has risen to $181 million. Mega Millions is played in California.
The Times story begins in a lottery store just 45 miles from Vegas.
Despite being surrounded by the world’s most famous casinos as well as slot machines in almost every corner convenience store, The Times article said, “Nevadans love playing the numbers. But the state is one of just seven that still prohibit lotteries.”
Here is some of the rest of the Times story.
Faced with a budget deficit of about $3 billion and armed with opinion polls showing that more than 70 percent of residents support a lottery, state lawmakers are considering a measure that would begin the lengthy process of legalization.
But opponents, such as legislators who call it a regressive tax that preys on the poor and owners of casinos off the Las Vegas Strip that cater to local residents and fear the competition, say they will work hard to ensure that does not happen.
“I’m getting letter after letter from people who want a lottery, and they should be able to have one,” said Assemblyman Paul Aizley, Democrat of Las Vegas, who introduced a resolution to allow a lottery, which the Assembly passed last week by a vote of 31 to 11.
The bill is before the Senate, where its chances are unclear, but the majority leader, Steven A. Horsford, a Democrat from the Las Vegas area, is a longtime supporter of a lottery.
It won’t happen overnight. Assuming that lottery supporters prevail, Nevadans could not hope to buy tickets before 2013 because altering the state’s Constitution would require that Mr. Aizley’s bill pass the Legislature twice and be approved in a statewide referendum.
“It’s just so inefficient because for every $1 that is collected, the state only keeps about 35 percent,” Mr. Sweeney said. “But Nevada has to be so accustomed to gambling that I can’t imagine there would be opposition.”
But opposition there is.
State Senator John J. Lee, Democrat of Las Vegas, who has long argued against a lottery, cited his pervasive fear that “a mother would go into the store to buy two gallons of milk and a loaf of bread but play the lottery instead and leave with one gallon of milk.”
Casino owners who oppose a lottery offer other reasons. Lori Nelson, a spokeswoman for Station Casinos, which owns 18 casinos geared to Nevada residents, asked, “Why would you want to have the state compete against its largest industry?” And Rob Stillwell of Boyd Gaming, owner of seven Las Vegas properties, said lotteries, which “can operate as kiosks” with relatively few employees, had an unfair advantage over casinos, which have the expense of infrastructure, amenities and a substantial payroll.
Mayor Oscar B. Goodman of Las Vegas, a lottery supporter, suggested something that might allay casino owners’ concerns. “Just make it so lottery tickets can only be sold in casinos,” Mr. Goodman said. “I know who the best customer in the world would be: Me!”
GAMES WE PLAY:
The April 27 Mega Millions jackpot, as we’ve said, is worth $181 million.
The April 28 Powerball jackpot is $65 million.
Euro Millions, on May 1, offers up a 98 million euro jackpot, or about $129.8 million, U.S.
To all the players around the world who play these games, good luck.