State law bans prostitution in Clark and Washoe Counties and it is up to individual county commissions in rural counties to allow the practice. But State Senator Bob Coffin says it could be time to revaluate those laws.
Political leaders say legalizing prostitution, and then taxing the industry's revenues, could raise hundreds of millions of dollars for state coffers. Senator Coffin believes the time has come for Nevada to seriously consider the concept.
"The point is that this act continues to occur and will always occur and it cannot be stopped and it can only be regulated, and perhaps taxed," he said.
Coffin says his first goal would be to tax existing bordellos, such as those currently operating in Nye County, as well as strip clubs and escort services elsewhere in the state, "When you add it all up, there's a lot to be said for creating a tax on the bordellos, the strip clubs and the escort or entertainment services."
Mayor Oscar Goodman says he's always been willing to have a discussion about legalizing prostitution, but says he will not go so far as to advocate for the change, "I have met with folks from that industry who make a very compelling argument that it could generate $200 million a year in tax dollars. That would buy a lot of textbooks, pay for a lot of teachers."
Proponents believe that legalizing prostitution would also make a safer environment for those working in the industry.
But UNLV Assistant Professor Alexis Kennedy says the research does not necessarily back up that claim, "Research that has been done on the brothel system has shown less violence in the brothels, but it does not remove violence and it is only open to people who can work there legally -- those without diseases, addiction issues, of the age of majority. So it does not capture all of the population either."
A spokesman for Las Vegas Metro Police says, at this point, the department does not know if legalizing prostitution would create any public safety issues. The department says they are going to reserve judgment until they see the specific language of the legislation, if it ever gets that far.
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