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Remembering opinion and looking forward to a lottery
by Harry Spencer
Jan 09, 2009 | 936 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Krystal Bick- John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino and other Nevada casinos should not be threatened by the implementation of a state lottery, Sparks Tribune columnist Harry Spencer said.  Spencer argues that the proceeds of a state lottery could benefit Nevada schools.
Tribune/Krystal Bick- John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino and other Nevada casinos should not be threatened by the implementation of a state lottery, Sparks Tribune columnist Harry Spencer said. Spencer argues that the proceeds of a state lottery could benefit Nevada schools.
A week ago, a majority of the columnists that appear in this publication on a weekly basis sat down for the first ever “get acquainted” luncheon. The event was well covered in a front page story of last Sunday’s Sparks Tribune and illustrated the diversity of the weekly contributors. One, Jeff Blanck, was not in attendance so there were no remarks from him.

Strangely enough, the topic that caused the most dissention among those present was that of a proposed Nevada state lottery. The columnist that has long pushed for such a lottery, David Farside, seemed the only one in favor — along with this writer.

Though a state lottery has been debated at nearly every session of the Legislature since 1982, when then Lt. Gov. candidate Bill Boyd made it the centerpiece of his campaign, it has routinely failed to pass.

The main reason for the lack of support for a Silver State Lottery has been that the gaming industry has opposed it. Their rationale has been that it would be competition to their games of chance and, in effect, would cut down on their income, subsequently reducing the amount of gaming tax paid to the state.

The easiest way to rebut that argument, according to Farside, is that the amount of money Nevadans spend buying California state lottery tickets in northern Nevada alone has seen millions and millions of dollars go out of the state — dollars which certainly never saw the green felt or slots in Nevada casinos. If Nevada could just recoup those lost dollars we would be well ahead of the game.

Another argument used against the Nevada casinos’ stand is the fact that when the New Jersey lottery went into place it did not affect casino winnings one iota.

That Nevada is currently in some of the worst economic times in its history is a given. Among those institutions reportedly suffering the most is the state’s education system. If, as has been the case in some states with lotteries, the proceeds of such a venture would go 100 percent to education, it would be a windfall for both primary and higher education in Nevada.

One of the statements against the lottery that surfaced last Saturday was, “Most of the profits from other lotteries go to the administration of the lottery!” To counter that, Nevada already has in place an entity that could easily administer the lottery and that would be the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

In previous support of the state lottery, Farside has noted that it would be tailored so that only properties with unlimited gaming licenses could sell lottery tickets. With a guaranteed “hold” for the casinos and an opportunity to give the millions of visitors to Nevada each year a chance to buy lottery tickets, it would be a win-win for all concerned.

Whatever the money going to the state in the event a lottery is enacted here, it would be far more than is currently hitting the coffers in Carson City.

Support for a lottery in the upcoming Legislature is predicted to come from the school systems. With their vast numbers of voters, Legislators may be forced to look more kindly on the creation of a Nevada state lottery.

Luncheon Notes

Saturday’s columnist luncheon was also a great opportunity for each one there to gage the human side of those writings that often appear side by side to theirs.

In regards to the diversity of the columnists, one in attendance noted, “I think the Tribune has the best and most qualified lineup of columnists of any publication in the state.” I would have to agree with him since he also mentioned that the old San Francisco Chronicle was a reader’s delight when it had its world famous stable of columnists.

I remember most of those guys well, since in the old days of marketing Reno/Sparks/Tahoe a “mention” in the Chronicle was worth about five pages of ad space in the paper.

Ruling the roost in those days was the inimitable Herb Caen, whose daily musings in “Baghdad by the Bay” were a must first-read for anyone in the Bay Area as well as the thousands of northern Nevadans that subscribed to the “Chron.” Caen was my favorite outlet since he often traveled to Reno on our invite and gave us good “item” mention on all occasions. His stellar contribution to the area occurred during the inaugural Virginia City Camel Race in 1960 when, as an attendee, he devoted one entire column to the event.

Second favorite in the Chronicle in those days was Stan Delaplane, who had a columnist’s “dream” job since his contract called for him to pen his stories outside the United States for six months out of the year — at the paper’s expense!

Another great satirical columnist in those days was Art Hoppe — who was sort of an early Dave Barry, but with a little more polish.

Another favorite was derby-wearing Charles McCabe, who chose Reno and the Mapes Motel for the site of one of his weddings.

It wouldn’t be fair to give Caen his well-earned due without mentioning his assistant, Jerry Bundsen, who had to screen the hundreds of “items” received on a daily basis and decide which ones to forward to Caen for his expert treatment.
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