Nevada pol: if you’re old enough to vote, why not gamble?

TAGs: jim wheeler, Nevada

nevada-gambling-age-jim-wheelerNevada could lower its legal gambling age to the simple age of majority if a state legislator has his way.

This week witnessed the start of the Nevada state legislature’s current session, and with it the introduction of AB 86. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (pictured), who believes that a person old enough to vote – let alone fight and die for one’s country – ought to have the legal right to gamble, too.

The current age requirement for legal gambling in Nevada is 21 years old, similar to what your ID has to say if you want a drop of legal alcohol. Wheeler knows this, despite his asking Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman A.G. Burnett for confirmation on this point on Tuesday during Burnett’s presentation to an Assembly committee on which Wheeler sits.

Wheeler’s bill aims to lower the minimum age at which individuals are allowed to gamble and engage in “certain other related activities.” Sadly, despite the holy troika of gambling, drinking and carrying on, Wheeler’s bill makes no effort to reduce the legal drinking age, and maintains that anyone 18 years or over but under 21 years who attempts to use their access to a casino floor to obtain alcoholic beverages will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

This isn’t the first time the state has pondered the notion of injecting some age-related sense into the gambling rules. At a gaming law conference in 2008, a lawyer raised the idea, only to be quickly rebuffed by legislators who feared that even publicly mulling the idea could provide easy ‘barely legal’ parodies in their political opponents’ attack ads in the next election cycle.

Frankly, Wheeler’s bill isn’t that controversial. Most Canadian casinos (and bars) are open to 19 year olds, and three provinces – Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec – allow 18 year olds to gamble (and drink).

Despite Wheeler’s willingness to put his name to a bill, it’s hard to see AB 86 making much headway. There are over 200 rival pieces of legislation vying for political attention in the 2017 session, most of which aren’t nearly as controversial. File this one under ‘too sane to pass’.


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