Nevada Gambling

gambling in the state of nevadaThere isn’t a better place in the country – and perhaps the world – to gamble than in Nevada. This is especially true in the town dubbed ‘Sin City’ – Las Vegas. However, Las Vegas isn’t the only place in the Silver State to get your gamble on. There are casinos small, large, and every size in between throughout the state. Nevada casinos are legendary and are fully stocked with blackjack, craps, slots, sports betting and poker games.

Nevada defines gambling as any activity in which a person is to “deal, operate, carry on, conduct, maintain or expose for play any game as defined in NRS 463.0152, or to operate an inter-casino linked system.”  This is according to NRS 463.0152.  The state is, on the one hand, pretty relaxed when it comes to gambling.  That is, the activity is encouraged and a large part of what makes Nevada, Nevada.  On the other hand, running afoul of the law can bring with it big headaches…and more.  Most charges and penalties directed toward players revolve around cheating rather than engaging in gambling per se.  This is according to Section 465.070 of the state’s law.  Widespread cheating can have a major impact on the gambling industry and potentially lead to smaller tax revenue amounts. That is why cheating offenses, especially major instances, can be tried as felonies rather than misdemeanors.

Online Gambling

It is no surprise that Nevada is a pro-gambling state in which gambling is a major industry for the economy.  They want to ensure that all gambling (and tax dollars) can make the state money, so they were the first state to offer legal and state regulated poker online in 2013. Ultimate Poker was the first US licensed online poker site in history.

Recent Developments

As of late, there have been several lawsuits brought against casinos alleging that they bear the responsibility of ensuring that guests and non-guest casino players are not too inebriated when gambling, so they don’t make potentially catastrophic decisions and lose a lot of money.  The latest in a string of such lawsuits includes that by a man who claims that the casino at which he was playing was legally obligated to cut him off from drinking because he too was too drunk to make informed decisions, specifically his decision to gamble (and subsequently lose) $500,000.  While many people have cried foul over his lawsuit, it is, nevertheless, an interesting claim.  On the one hand, if someone wins that amount while drunk, he or she would never argue that the win is invalid because he or she was drunk.  However, there is still something to be said for informed consent and participation.  If bartenders, who would have otherwise cut off a person seeming to be drunk, but did not because they were conspiring at the behest of their employer to have the person gamble and likely loose because of diminished capacity, then that may be a different scenario – one in which harm was done and damages a fair question to pose.

Casinos in Nevada

There are more than 250 land based casinos in the state, with some of the most famous ones, including the following: Peppermill Reno Hotel Casino, Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, Harrah’s Reno, the MGM Grand, Trump, and the Bellagio.

History of Nevada Gambling

Nevada has long been a state with a vibrant gambling culture and its gambling history predates its statehood.  As a pioneer state, before its statehood, individuals traveled to and moved to the area in the hopes of finding gold (during the Gold Rush).  This occurred during the early nineteenth century.  By the middle of that century, appointed political leaders such as Governor Nye (of the then Nevada Territory), attitudes began shifting regarding gambling and its impact on society.  As a result, gambling culture became more restrictive and there was practically draconian penalties for participating in a gambling activity.  While the public tolerated such policy for a number of years (less than a decade), ultimately, they pushed back and gambling made a resurgence upon Nevada receiving its statehood in 1861.  Although, the proposed measure to legalize the activity failed until its passage in 1869.  Until the turn of the twentieth century, there was a legal expansion of gambling, but that stalled once the Progressives came into power and conservative measures across the country were implemented, e.g., Prohibition.

After the repeal of Prohibition and similar measures, gambling began to once again expand and become much more lenient, allowing for social gambling and early slot machines and card games, especially in cities such as Reno.  Reno was, in fact, the state’s main gambling hub rather than Las Vegas, which came later.  Current events of the time such as the Great Depression caused those in Nevada to debate the social good of gambling.  Ultimately, however, in 1931, a state senator proposed that gambling essentially be made legal across the board.  One can speculate that this would boost the economy but perhaps more importantly, boost morale and the spirits of the state’s people if there were additional recreational activities.  This change of heart and policy led to the state’s gambling industry to expand.  At present, Nevada is home to more than 250 land based casinos.  The state has a robust gambling culture, which allows all forms of gambling but it does not have a state lottery.  The lack of state lottery is not based on ideology but something that just has not yet happened.  Nevada is home to both tribal and commercial casinos.

Nevada Gambling Revenue

Here are the annual gambling revenue numbers for the state of Nevada

  • 1984 – $3,146,482,000
  • 1985 – $3,370,619,000
  • 1986 – $3,532,958,000
  • 1987 – $3,982,213,000
  • 1988 – $4,429,411,000
  • 1989 – $4,748,536,000
  • 1990 – $4,639,595,000
  • 1991 – $5,572,378,000
  • 1992 – $5,864,228,000
  • 1993 – $6,247,508,000
  • 1994 – $7,007,586,000
  • 1995 – $7,368,580,000
  • 1996 – $7,426,192,000
  • 1997 – $7,801,920,000
  • 1998 – $8,064,970,000
  • 1999 – $9,021,570,000
  • 2000 – $9,602,586,000
  • 2001 – $9,468,599,000
  • 2002 – $9,447,660,000
  • 2003 – $9,625,304,000
  • 2004 – $10,562,247,000
  • 2005 – $11,649,040,000
  • 2006 – $12,622,044,000
  • 2007 – $12,849,137,000
  • 2008 – $11,599,124,000
  • 2009 – $10,392,675,000
  • 2010 – $10,404,731,000
  • 2011 – $10,700,994,000
  • 2012 – $10,860,715,000
  • 2013 – $11,142,915,000



  • Nevada Resort Association. (2014). History of Gaming in Nevada.
  • UNLV. Nevada Gaming Research Reports
  • Martinez, M. L. (2014, March 7). ‘I am not a sore loser,’ says gambler suing Vegas casino after losing $500K. Retrieved from

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