Generally there are always a few silly bills proposed each session………some are whimsical such as the ‘Official cocktail of Nevada’ type bills – That really affects no one, gives the session a moment for levity and then move on.
But there is one bill that stand out for the SILLY BILL OF THE SESSION and that is AB86 introduced by Douglas County Republican Jim Wheeler – Jim Wheeler of the “I would vote for slavery if my constituents wanted me to.” fame!
Since the “Great Recession” hit, Nevada’s gambling win (Some like to call it gaming. because calling gambling by a different name cleanses the perception) has been down…….in the roughly 10 years since the economic meltdown hit, the gambling win in Nevada has not returned to pre-recession levels.
So Nevada as a state took a pretty good financial hit…………Recall, that from 1933 when Nevada legalized gambling, the win across the state from casino’s was the cash cow for Nevada coffers…….and that cash cow produced enough that Nevada could remain a relatively low tax state………of course it helps when Nevada was also ranked 48th to 40th in populations………so up to, let’s say 1980, Nevada could feast and sustain off the taxation from casino gambling win.
But then around 1980, Nevada, specifically Las Vegas began to grow like a spring time weed……..The Las Vegas area grew from around 450,000 to around a million by 1990……….then approached 2 million around the turn of the century……..and the Reno/Sparks area also grew, from a sleepy 150,000 to around 400,00 to around 600,000+ over the years……….and growth means roads, schools, infrastructure, etc.
So Nevada wasn’t the tiny 500,000 to 1 million population state anymore and was speeding towards 3 million in a short few decades.
So here we are in 2016, with the state growing again…….the economic base is as diversified as it’s ever been, but the state still counts on that cash cow called gambling! But the numbers are down………..so what to do?!?! For most of the states history, the legal age for “adult activities” was set at 21…..no gambling, no drinking until you hit 21 (blackjack pun intended). But now Jim Wheeler sees an untapped demographic that Nevada can raid for taxes, and the best thing is this isn’t a “tax increase” which GOP Jim would NEVER propose………Wheeler proposes Nevada lower the legal age for gambling to 18!! Because those 18 to 20 year old’s are just flush with cash!! Cash that if Nevada allowed to launder (er…gamble….er, GAME!) through a slot machine or dice table, Nevada might reap the rewards on those gambling loses!!
Let’s be honest here……… The basic economic model for Nevada from 1864 to 1980 was ply gamblers with free drinks, provide some entertainment and fleece the customer at the gambling tables and machines…….and now Jim Wheeler sees 18 to 20 years old’s as the next cash cow.
So by all means let’s get the youngsters hooked on drinking and gambling their few dollars at 18, why wait until they are 21?!?! Plus the “take” on these inexperienced kids surely would be higher than on those experienced 30+ year old gamblers !!
This bill needs to die soon & tossed into the recycle bin.
Meanwhile here’s a KNPR interview of problem gambling, so it makes sense to get them early!! https://knpr.org/knpr/2017-02/problem-gambling-researchers-know-issue-all-too-well