Updated June 18, 2021 - 5:40 pm
There’s a new way to make a quick million in Nevada that doesn’t involve plugging coins into a slot machine.
Residents who have gotten — or soon receive — a shot of vaccine to prevent COVID-19 will have a chance to win prizes such as college tuition and $1 million in cash.
On Thursday, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that residents vaccinated in the state will be eligible for $5 million in prizes through eight weekly drawings beginning July 8. The winner of a $1 million grand prize will be announced on Aug. 26.
With the announcement of the Vax Nevada Days program, Nevada joined a growing number of states offering big prizes to bolster vaccination rates at a time when interest in getting a shot is waning — even as more contagious coronavirus strains are gaining traction.
Just over half of Nevada’s 12-and-older population that is eligible for the vaccine has gotten at least one dose, a figure health officials hope can be boosted to slow — or even stop — the spread of a disease that has killed more than 5,600 people in the state.
As in other states, the program is being funded through federal coronavirus relief money.
So who wants to be a millionaire? From the program’s website, here are the details on the latest route to riches, college or free fishing.
How do I enter?
You don’t, in the sense that there’s no entry form to fill out. Residents who have received at least one shot of the vaccine in Nevada since the rollout began in December will be automatically entered into the weekly drawings.
Are all residents eligible?
Most, but not all. Prisoners at a state or federal facility are not eligible, according to the contest rules.
Many government officials — such those in the governor’s office or with the state’s immunization program, members of Congress, and members of the state Assembly and Senate — and their immediate family members also are ineligible.
So are employees of Immunize Nevada and technology vendors such as International Game Technology that are partnering with the state on the program.
Residents vaccinated in another state are not eligible.
Residents are eligible regardless of immigration status, state vaccination official Karissa Loper said last month in discussing the vaccination raffle before the state’s COVID-19 task force.
Officials said they are working to ensure that military and veterans vaccinated in Nevada through a federal program also will be entered to win.
What are the prizes?
For those ages 12 to 17, the youngest group eligible to be vaccinated, prizes include 135 college savings accounts ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. The tuition prizes can be used for “any post-secondary education,” according to the contest website. The tuition can be used at schools outside of Nevada, said Meghin Delaney, a representative of the governor’s office.
For adults 18 and older, awards include 149 cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $250,000, as well as the $1 million grand prize.
For all ages, there are prizes of state fishing licenses and annual entrance permits to state parks.
There are some 2,000 prizes in all.
How are winners picked?
Winners will be randomly selected from a list of Nevada residents who have received at least one dose of vaccine recorded in the Nevada WebIZ system for tracking vaccinations. A unique number will be assigned to each vaccination record by the state immunization program, and those numbers will be provided to IGT, which will use computerized tools to randomly select the winners.
The Nevada Immunization Program and Immunize Nevada are working with IGT to ensure the winners are selected using a certified random number generator. This process is “used by all U.S. lotteries to conduct drawings for many games,” according to IGT.
Winners of a weekly drawing remain in the pool for all future drawings, including the grand prize.
Aren’t lotteries illegal in Nevada?
Lotteries, generally opposed by the state’s gaming industry, are prohibited under Nevada’s Constitution. However, lawyers for state government said that because this giveaway doesn’t require participants to pay to enter, it’s not considered a lottery, the governor said.
How are winners notified?
Winners will be notified by an official representative of Immunize Nevada using the contact information within an individual’s record in Nevada WebIZ, the state’s system for tracking vaccinations.
To protect privacy, only Immunize Nevada and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services will know the identity of the person associated with the random number that has been drawn.
How do winners claim their prizes?
All potential winners will be required to submit additional information to verify eligibility and identity, such as proof of Nevada residency, age, occupation or employer.
Winners will not be asked to pay any fees to claim a prize. Program representatives will never ask for a bank account number or credit card number. Nor will they ask for money.
If the program cannot reach a winner within 48 hours, that winner is deemed to have forfeited the prize and it will be awarded to an alternate winner.
Can winners remain anonymous?
By claiming a prize, winners agree that their names may be announced publicly. “If remaining anonymous is a priority for you, you will need to decline your prize,” the contest website states.
Parents or legal guardians of minors must agree to the release of the minor’s first name to the public for promotional purposes.
Do winners pay taxes on prizes?
Yes. Prizes are subject to all applicable state and federal taxes.
Any tips on how to win?
Just one, from Immunize Nevada’s executive director Heidi Parker:
“Remember that the sooner you get this shot, the more chances you have to win,” Parker said.
For more information, visit vaxnevadadays.org.