STATEMENT by Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge regarding the Nevada State Lottery:



Tuesday, March 7, 2023


Bethany Khan: ▪ (702) 387-7088

STATEMENT by Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge regarding the Nevada State Lottery:

It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that Nevada’s biggest industry is content with Nevada being last in the country in mental health and close to last on education. We urge the Nevada Resort Association to do better for our communities.

The Culinary Union is advocating for the Nevada Legislature to create a State Lottery that would dedicate sustainable funding to youth mental health and education.

The Culinary Union has a long history of fighting and winning for working families in Carson City: We have taken on Big Pharma to win diabetes and asthma drug transparency and worked for over 25-years to end surprise medical bills for ALL Nevadans. This year is no different. We continue to fiercely advocate for Culinary Union members and Nevadans to have quality health care and Neighborhood Stability. 

One job should be enough to have a roof over our heads and ensure Nevada’s youth have quality mental health care access and education. Just like we have throughout our 88 year history, we will stand together and win a future where we all thrive.


In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25%, according to the World Health Organization. Nevada's mental health system has been underfunded for decades and has been the worst in the nation for years. It is particularly bad for Nevada's children. While there were already concerns about youth mental health prior to the pandemic, the past two years have exposed children and adolescents to unprecedented events and a general sense of unpredictability in their lives. 

In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association together declared “a national state of emergency” in children’s mental health and the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory calling on the country to address the youth mental health crisis urgently. The pandemic only exacerbated the situation. Youth mental health is now parents' biggest concern and 40% said in a recent national poll that they are extremely or very worried that their kids struggle with anxiety or depression. Young people are in crisis as teen girls reported high rates of sadness and suicidal violence. We must do something.

In Nevada, the numbers are stark. Nevada public schools are the most poorly funded in the U.S., according to a 2022 study by the Education Law Center. Nevada funds its students $4,370 less per pupil than the national average of $15,446, the study found, giving it a ranking of 47th in funding level. In 2021 and 2022, Mental Health America ranked Nevada as the worst in the nation for overall mental health based on the prevalence of mental illness and access to care. Nevada received a D+ on the Children's Mental Health Report Card and Fs for access to mental/behavioral care, adolescent substance use disorders, emotional disturbance, and juvenile justice. This has to change.

It’s clear that longterm capacity building for mental health and education is needed, and a specific source of consistent funding is critical for this. Nevada needs sustainable, long-term funding to establish, educate, continue and expand programs to train, recruit, and retain mental health professionals, and to fill considerable gaps in Nevada's mental and behavioral health services system. Nevada has an opportunity to create a longterm funding source directed towards mental health capacity building, without increasing taxes on Nevada residents or businesses, through a State Lottery.

Nevada is currently only one of 5 states without a lottery. Enacting a State Lottery is a dependable source of revenue for nearly every state in the country and in a state where gaming is the cornerstone of the economy, there is no public policy rationale to continue the ban on a State Lottery that is present in the Nevada Constitution. It is difficult to estimate how much money Nevada is losing when Nevada residents purchase lottery tickets from other states, but the figure is almost certainly more than $10 million a year, based on traffic at a store on the Nevada/California border. Nevada is the regulatory gold standard of gaming and it knows how to properly administer gaming in a way that does not negatively impact citizens. Sustainable investment in youth mental health is good public policy that is long overdue and implementing a State Lottery would allow Nevada to address an ongoing and urgent public health crisis.

As one the largest organization of parents in Nevada, the Culinary Union believes it is imperative that Nevada lawmakers address our mental health care system and so, the Culinary Union will be launching campaign to engage with voters about support for increased youth mental health funding and education. Culinary Union applauds the announcement by the Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus that Assemblyman C.H Miller is proposing an amendment to the Nevada Constitution that would pave the way for Nevada to establish a State Lottery in order to provide critical funding. We look forward to working with Assemblyman Miller on this vital effort. The Culinary Union urges NVLEG to invest in Nevadans by passing this amendment to the Nevada Constitution. 

“I struggled with my mental health growing up and found it challenging to access the care I needed when I needed it and the pandemic put more stress on families like mine. We need more therapists and more locations for Nevada’s youth to be able to access mental health support. We also need more resources in schools for children who lack access. I see my friends and other young people struggling with their mental health and it's tough to see,” said Ivan Lopez, a Culinary Union youth member who works as a casino porter on the Las Vegas Strip. “I support a Nevada State Lottery to fund access and improvements of Nevada's mental and behavioral health services system. Funding youth mental health and education is an investment in the future of our society. I support the amendment to the Nevada Constitution to establish a State Lottery and I’m asking Nevada lawmakers to address the youth mental health crisis and make Nevada a better place for everyone.”

Nevada State Lottery (AJR5): A constitutional provision that would enable the creation of the Nevada State Lottery and allocate the revenue towards youth mental health programs in the school and/or the community. Bill is carried by: Assemblyman C.H. Miller (AD7)


Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America. 

The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Culinary Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 145,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members and their dependents.  

The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest Latinx/Black/AAPI/immigrant organization with members who come from 178 countries and speak over 40 different languages. We are proud to have helped over 18,000 immigrants become American citizens and new voters since 2001 through our affiliate, The Citizenship Project.  

The Culinary Union has a diverse membership which is 55% women and 45% immigrants. The demographics of Culinary Union members are approximately: 54% Latinx, 18% white, 15% Asian, 12% Black, and less than 1% Indigenous Peoples. 

Culinary Union members work as: Guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, laundry and kitchen workers. The Culinary Union has been fighting and winning for working families in Nevada for 88 years. / @Culinary226 


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