As We See It

A Nevada lottery would make a lotto sense

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California made $4.4 billion on its lottery in 2011. Did you buy a ticket?

Yep, it’s that time of year again—not when the crappy summer TV shows begin, but when Nevadans begin asking, “Why don’t we have a state lottery?” When you look at the thousands of Nevadans who travel to stand in line for hours at the California border for a 1-in-175,223,510 chance of winning Powerball (instead of staying here and playing games with significantly better odds), it does seem a bit wonky that a state built on gambling won’t get with the program. We’re talking about an industry that generated $56 billion across 43 states in 2011, a large portion of which goes to education. California, for example, made $4.4 billion on its lottery in 2011, $1.3 billion of which went to schools (and some of which came courtesy of the aforementioned Nevadans). Given the woeful state of our schools, it may finally be time for our legislators to admit the current funding model just isn’t working. State lotteries and legal gambling can coexist: State lotteries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey brought in $3.4 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively, in 2012, while their total revenue from table games and slot machines came to $3 billion and $3.3 billion. Whether it’s games of chance or games of no chance, our Legislature should be focused on keeping gamblers itching here, not scratching in another state.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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