Nevada lottery is a winning idea for residents |

Nevada lottery is a winning idea for residents

One would think that with all of the gambling in Nevada the last thing the state would consider is creating a lottery.

On closer inspection it is clear that gaming and lotteries are different animals. Yes, both require a person to spend money with the intent of gaining even more. Both require taking a gamble to win when the odds are stacked against them. But casinos provide a sense of recreation where participants are playing a game, whereas buying a lottery ticket or scratcher is nothing more than a longshot dream at winning millions.

Casinos are a business where the money spent goes into the owners’ pockets for them to then distribute how they see fit. Lottery dollars go into a state’s coffers for it to distribute among the citizenry.

There is no reason Nevada should not be able to run a successful lottery alongside all of the gaming. The reason it is being proposed is to deal with the continuing budget shortfalls the state is facing. On Wednesday the Governor’s Task Force on Tax Policy endorsed a state lottery. The task force estimates a state-run lottery could generate $50 million every year.

Gov. Kenny Guinn estimates the state will be short $294 million by the end of this fiscal year. The task force says the number could climb to $370 million.

The lottery will not solve the current money problems, but it could solve long-term problems.

It would be years before retailers began selling tickets. Because the state Constitution would need to be changed we are looking at five years before a lottery comes to Nevada. The deadline for the final report of the task force is Nov. 15. Then Guinn and the 2003 Legislature can begin tackling the issue. The Legislature would have to approve the idea in consecutive sessions and then the voters would have the final say.

Looking across state lines, it is easy to see why a state lottery is so attractive. California voters approved a state lottery in 1984, with sales beginning in October 1985. The purpose is to raise money for all levels of education. Since the lottery started $13 billion has gone to California public education. The deal is that public education must be given a minimum of 34 percent of the sales revenues each year.

We believe a Nevada lottery is a win-win situation. Those who play responsibly have a chance to win millions with just a buck, while all of the residents in the state will win with the availability of more dollars being spent on the people and services within the state.

Nevadans in the south part of the state prove on a regular basis that citizens are eager to dispense with their greenbacks for a chance at more. Whenever California’s lottery reaches near-record levels cars backed up for miles on Interstate 15 with people waiting to buy tickets at the little shop in California. And when the Powerball skyrockets, Southern Nevadans pour into Arizona for a chance at millions.

Nevadans are gamblers, let them play and let everyone win.

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