Republican assemblyman Jim Wheeler is sponsoring a bill that would lower the age to gamble in Nevada from 21 to 18. The bill would also allow casino visitors who are 18 years old to walk freely through the casino gaming areas.
Currently, anyone under 21 must use walkways around the gaming areas to visit restaurants, shops, theaters, etc. If passed the bill would allow visitors 18 and older to gamble, but it wouldn’t change the drinking age. It would still be illegal to serve anyone under 21 alcohol in Nevada casinos. This could have a ripple effect throughout casinos in the state.
This isn’t the first time that the idea of reducing the gambling age to 18 has been proposed. The idea was floated back in 2008 but didn’t take off, obviously. The country was in the middle of a recession and everyone in the state of Nevada was looking for any way possible to bring people back into casinos.
That same idea in 2017 still doesn’t seem like a reality. Las Vegas ABC affiliate, KNTV, is reporting that “the bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee. Chairman Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) says while it’s not a big priority this session, he’s willing to give the bill a hearing.”
If approved this bill would change the face of the casino floor. Of course, it would bring 18, 19, and 20-year-old gamblers to casino games. However, it could also be the excuse Las Vegas casinos need to finally get rid of complimentary drinks while gambling.
You may remember that last year MGM Resorts revealed that they’ve decreased how much alcohol they pour in drinks. They’ve also started to install drink monitoring systems at some bars. This bill could be the excuse they, and other casino operators, need to completely remove complimentary drinks everywhere in casinos.
Currently the casino operators are trying to maximize revenue wherever they can. There’s no doubt that they would welcome the potential increase in customers to the casinos. However, the potential fines for underage drinking would increase with the new gamblers. As of today, if you’re old enough to gamble in a casino then you’re old enough to drink. That wouldn’t be the case if this bill passes.
Any questionable guests currently have their identification checked by dealers and pit bosses if needed. If this bill passes there might need to be a second person needed to check identification to see if someone is old enough to drink. This would likely become the job of a cocktail server, but at what cost? Extra work typically demands extra pay.
It would be difficult for a corporation to justify a raise for the cocktail waitresses if they’re slinging free drinks. One way to offset any pay raise would be to have the cocktail waitress generate greater revenue by charging for drinks.
Casino operators generating more revenue also means that the state will generate more revenue. The new customers could be a win-win for the casinos and state. Again, this bill doesn’t seem to be a priority for government right now.