nevada scratch tickets

Nevada State Lotteries Laws

Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated June 20, 2016

Maybe you saw a news segment about a man from Michigan winning a Mega Millions drawing. Or maybe you’ve heard about friends in California playing scratch-off games. And you’ve dreamt about a chance to turn one little $2 ticket into a life on easy street. But Silver State residents are out of luck on the lotto front: there is no state-sanctioned lottery here. Here is a quick introduction to lotteries laws in Nevada.

Lotteries Laws in Nevada

All but six states have a state-run lottery, and Nevada is one of the six. The others are Bible Belt states Alabama and Mississippi, regional outliers Alaska and Hawaii, and eastern neighbors Utah. Although it may seem odd to allow so much gambling and gaming while outlawing a state lottery, Nevada’s state constitution is clear: “no lottery may be authorized by this State, nor may lottery tickets be sold.” While it is not illegal for Nevada residents to purchase tickets for out-of-state lotteries, the sale of lottery tickets from other states is prohibited within state lines. Nevada’s state lotteries prohibition is listed in the table below.

Distribution of Lottery Revenue

Additional Purpose of Lottery

Lottery Prize Subject to Garnishment

Time Limit to Claim Prize/Disposition

Prohibited Related Activities

Lotteries Laws, Generally

State lottery laws (in the states that allow a government-sanctioned lottery) regulate everything from where, how, and to whom tickets can be sold, to how long a winner has to claim a prize and which state-funded programs will receive lottery revenues. The majority of states allocate their lottery proceeds to a general fund, and from there the lottery revenue is earmarked for specific projects like transportation infrastructure projects, public education initiatives, or environmental protections. States are permitted to participate in national lottery pools, like Mega Millions and Powerball, and multi-state contests like Monopoly Millionaire’s Club along with their own state-specific lottery games.

Related Resources for Nevada State Lotteries Laws

Even in the states that have them, lotteries laws can vary. And the line between illegal lotteries and legal gaming and gambling isn’t always the easiest to understand. You can consult with a Nevada gaming law attorney in your area if you would like legal assistance regarding a lottery or gambling law matter. You can also visit FindLaw’s section on Gaming Law for additional articles and information on this topic.

Chart providing details of Nevada State Lotteries Laws

No Lottery in Nevada? Why?!

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Las Vegas visitors are often stunned to find that the lottery is strictly prohibited in Nevada. In a state that allows large wagers on what hole a tiny white ball will land in, the lack of a state lottery is perplexing to say the least.

While protecting the public from shady lottery practices may have been the original intent of the law, today the powerful casino lobby ensures it’s perpetuation.

Lotteries were originally outlawed in the Nevada state constitution which was ratified in 1864. Section 24 states “No lottery may be authorized by this State, nor may lottery tickets be sold.” One small caveat to the prohibition on lotteries is a 1990 rule change that allows for charitable raffles to take place – A far cry from offering Powerball or MegaMillions.

There have been numerous attempts over the years to amend the state constitution to allow a lottery. After all, other states are doing quite a bit of good with money raised from scratch tickets and jackpot drawings such as funding environmental initiatives and education. The Nevada Resorts Association, however, representing the gaming industry vehemently opposes such a change. They argue that a lottery would pull revenue away from resorts in Nevada that provide jobs to thousands and pay a substantial chunk of the states tax dollars. Essentially, they claim the money to pay for schools and other initiatives is already there. A lottery would only move tax dollars from one source (casinos) to another (the lottery) while creating few, if any incremental revenue.

Let me (sarcastically) translate the casino/resort stance for you: “We are currently the only show in town if you want to gamble and would prefer minimal competition as we rake profits from games with ever deteriorating player odds. “

The state constitution is no easy task to amend either. I won’t bore you with the procedural minutia of what needs to occur politically, but even with the necessary policy momentum the status quo would take years to upend.

Long story short, there isn’t lottery in Nevada and there won’t be any time soon. For the foreseeable future, Las Vegas residents will be forced to drive 45 minutes down I15 to the Primm Valley Lotto Store across the border in California. With them will go countless dollars that could have been invested in Nevada schools.

Visitors are often shocked by the absence of a lottery in the gambling capital of the United States? Why doesn't Nevada have a lottery and is implementing one in the cards? ]]>