weather icon Clear

Here’s why you can’t play Powerball in Nevada

Updated August 23, 2017 - 3:07 am

CARSON CITY — Someone could be $700 million richer when the Powerball numbers come up Wednesday night.

But if the winner — or winners, for all you office pool lottery players — is a Nevada resident, he or she will have had to make a drive to get the lucky ticket.

The lottery is against the law in Nevada because the gaming industry in the state does not want the competition.

“The potential impact of a lottery on commercial gaming, and therefore the state’s tax revenue, should be well-understood before amending the state’s constitution is considered,” the Nevada Resort Association said.

So while fortune seekers in 44 states, including California and Arizona, can head to the local convenience store to pick their lucky Powerball numbers, Nevada residents have to cross a state line — but not to Utah — to even play a scratch ticket.

Compared with other types of gaming, lotteries do not pay property taxes or require investment in infrastructure. Nor do they create high-paying jobs with benefits or have the direct and indirect economic impacts of resort casinos, the resort association said.

“A state lottery would be a regressive tax which would provide no immediate revenue (and) does not create quality jobs, and lotteries have not proven to solve revenue problems in other states,” the association said in a statement to the Review-Journal.

There is also some opposition from religious and conservative groups because of the potential negative effects on people with low incomes who might invest scarce income on a chance at riches.

Difficult to change

And even without the opposition, implementing a lottery in Nevada would be difficult.

A prohibition on the state lottery was placed in Nevada’s constitution at statehood in 1864. In the sesquicentennial-plus since then, the only change has been a voter-approved amendment in 1990 that allows lotteries to be operated by charitable organizations.

So getting a lottery in Nevada would require a constitutional amendment, and both methods of doing so take years.

A citizen-backed initiative petition would require votes in two consecutive general elections. A petition done by lawmakers would have to pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature, then go to the voters once.

Every effort to amend Nevada’s constitution to allow a lottery floated in the Legislature over the past 30 years has failed.

The last effort came in 2015, when former Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, got a committee hearing on his measure, but it never came up for a vote.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.