Lowering gambling age could be possibility, regulator says
November 11, 2008
LAS VEGAS ” A top Nevada gambling regulator said the state Legislature could consider lowering the minimum gambling age from 21 to 18 to help boost state gambling revenue.
State Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander and Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said they neither supported nor opposed the idea.
But Neilander told gambling industry lawyers at a conference sponsored by the State Bar of Nevada last Friday that he would take the suggestion to state Sen. Steven Horsford, the new Democratic majority leader, and Assembly Democratic Speaker Barbara Buckley.
The question was raised by Thomas Smock, a lawyer for slot machine maker Aristocrat Technologies Inc. He said some 12 million Americans ages 18 to 21 years old could be allowed to gamble if the law was changed.
Smock said on Monday that he wasn’t representing Aristocrat with the question. He said he thought the discussion was relevant during the current economic slump, and noted that 18-year-olds vote and serve in the military.
“I personally feel that this is a way that additional revenue could be generated, and if that means keeping our teachers employed and not cutting the state budget any further, I think it should at least be discussed,” he said.
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Neilander said the proposal would get intense scrutiny from groups concerned about problem gambling and underage players.
Nevada law currently makes it a misdemeanor for anyone under the age of 21 to gamble.
But the age in some tribal casinos in California is 18. In Arizona, voters in 2002 raised the gambling age from 18 to 21 with a gambling expansion initiative.