Nevada Residents Question the Ban on Powerball Lottery Gambling in Their Home State
The $1.5 billion Powerball drawing tonight is a reminder to Nevadans that their state bans them from playing the lottery. Las Vegas residents have the ability to travel less than an hour into Arizona or California to buy a lottery ticket, but people in other parts of the state do not have that luxury. Nevada bans the lottery.
One might say residents of Nevada have plenty of gaming options, with the 185+ casinos in the state. One might say a state lottery has much worse odds than casino gambling. It does not matter to Nevadans, not when a chance to win a billion dollars is on the line.
6 States Ban Powerball Sales
For many, it is the reason that gambling is banned which irks them. Deep down, they know they are one of 6 states which does not have the Powerball lottery. The other states (Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Utah) tend to have widespread impositions against gambling. For instance, Hawaii and Utah have a 100% ban on all forms of gambling. Utah hearkens back to its Mormon roots for its ban. Hawaiians believe gambling in any form leads to moral problems. One might disagree with the comprehensive ban on gaming, but one has to respect the state for its lack of hypocrisy.
Nevada, on the other hand, is the capital of gambling in the United States. Residents know the only reason their lawmakers take a stand against the lottery is to maintain a monopoly for the casino operations. At the end of the day, they know their lawmakers are in the back pocket of casino operators like Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn, and Jim Murren. The ban on lottery sales has nothing to do with moral concerns, despite any arguments to the contrary.
Casino Gambling or Lotto Tickets
At least most political and business leaders do not argue that way. Of course, that requires officials to be creative when they give excuses for why a lottery does not exist. A.G. Burnett, the Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, explained to ABC News in 2013 why Nevada does not have a lottery. He used the simple excuse of tradition, as if decisions made about the lottery by officials half-a-century ago somehow bind the hands of officials today.
When asked about the gaming laws, Burnett said, “There was a decision in the state of Nevada as to whether we’d be just a casino-style gaming state or a state that allowed lotteries. The legislature put that language in years ago that said, we’re just going to be a casino gaming state without a lottery.”
AG Burnett: “The Gaming Industry…Doesn’t Want a Lottery”
It is a good attempt to explain Nevada’s gaming laws, but it ignores the fact that gambling does not have to be an either/or proposition. Still, after a follow-up question, AG Burnett was honest enough to give the straight answer.
He said the issue comes up every few years for the legislature, but lawmakers do not act on the issue. He added back in 2013, “I think it’s the gaming industry that doesn’t want to have a lottery. That’s pretty much the prevailing view even today.”
Ohrenschall on the Lotto Ban
James Ohrenschall, a Las Vegas Democratic Assemblyman who co-sponsored the bill to institute a lottery, is not so sanguine over the ban on lotto gaming. Ohrenschall said the ban costs Nevada’s treasury millions and millions of dollars each year, so it is inexcusable. Ohrenschall said, “We have a lot of problems in this state. We’re high on a lot of the bad lists. We can’t afford to be exporting money that could be used to address these issues.”
Arizona Vendors Happy with the Set-Up
Some locals are happy with the current situation. Brad Larson owns Rosie’s Den Cafe in White Hills, Arizona, some 60 miles away. His store makes a lot of money from lottery sales — never more than this week.
Mr. Larson said his mother got a lottery vending license when she still ran the store, and he’s thankful she did. Larson told ABC News, “I’m sure glad mom had the foresight to get the lottery 27 years ago. The terminals are running nonstop.”
As long as the lottery jackpot climbs, the sales are going to continue to escalate. With so many people playing on Wednesday night, the odds that a winner is declared goes up significantly. Expect a victory in the Powerball lottery on Wednesday night, but do not expect that winner to be from Nevada.