The Gambling Policy in Nevada

A comprehensive review of the development of the law of gambling also demonstrates the complexity of the legal policies that have grown up over the years.

The criminal law and its general policy of prohibition lies at the heart of society's legal attitudes toward the various forms of gambling, yet criminal law is supported by a complex series of parallel civil rules, few of which have been reduced to statutory form.

Reform of the heart, therefore, may have unintended consequences in the extremities, unless careful attention is given to the civil law.

If the policy of the civil law is important, even more so is the policy of taxation.

The single most important factor in the success of various efforts to substitute forms of public gambling for private illegal gambling is tax policy. Several general conclusions must be drawn.

All of the evidence seems to indicate that there is no justification for the highly publicized expectation that the decriminalization of gambling will provide an important new source of revenue for public treasuries.

Legalized gambling, too, probably cannot simultaneously serve the twin objectives of maximum gains in revenue and improved law enforcement through maximum competition with illicit gambling.

Finally, tax laws must be reformulated to recognize economic facts of life, so that taxation does not put lawful forms of gambling in uncompetitive positions with unlawful forms.

The relation of the law of other jurisdictions must be considered in the formulation and execution of new policies. The impact of the law of any one jurisdiction is a complex intermixture of criminal, civil, and tax policy.

Equally so, the policy of neighbor states and, even more so, the policy of the federal government must be taken into account.

Since 1988, legalized casino-style gambling has been expanding rapidly in the United States and changing the face of the industry. Nevada and Atlantic City were the only U.S. jurisdictions with legalized casino gaming. Yet even with their reputation as North America's gambling meccas, casinos are more of a regional phenomena.

For example, of the more 22 million people who visit Las Vegas annually, nearly one-half are from the West and fully 30 percent travel from California, while just 10 percent are from the East.

On the East coast, one-fourth of all U.S. residents reside within 300 miles of Atlantic City. From this region, Atlantic City gets over 75 percent of its visitors, the majority of whom live no more than 150 miles away.

Since 1989, casino-style gambling has proliferated across the country on American Indian reservations, in limited-stakes casinos in South Dakota and Colorado, and in riverboats in Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi, and Louisiana.