Can Casinos Start Having Higher Hopes For Marijuana Yet?

Posted By Jessica Welman on December 9, 2017

[toc]Recreational marijuana is starting its sixth month in Nevada. In that time period though, Nevada casinos still are not exactly sure how cozy they should be getting with the cannabis industry.

Earlier this month the Nevada state Gaming Policy Committee met to discuss how to approach the drug industry. Namely, whether or not casinos can host lucrative trade shows and conventions if the vendors have ties to marijuana.

The discussion cannot come soon enough. Los Angeles, a mere four hours from Vegas, recently approved recreational marijuana measure. Come 2018, the City of Angels will have commercial dispensaries too. This could have an effect on the nascent Nevada cannabis business.

Gaming Policy Committee can’t reach any conclusions

There are not many details from the meeting and what the 12-person group discussed. However, the Associated Press reports the group ended the session without any formal decision on the issue.

However, the panel is not off the hook yet. Gov. Brian Sandavol, who chairs the group, instructed the committee to come up with some sort of plan by February 2018.

The group did talk with members of the marijuana industry during the session, so they do have some frame of reference to develop policy suggestions.

Cassandra Farrington, CEO of Marijuana Business Daily, talked with the group about her recent conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The MJ BizCon previously held their event at the Rio, but with 18,000 attendees, they outgrew the convention space.

If you’re wondering what a marijuana conference entails, there is a surprising lack of marijuana. The product is not available on the convention floor.

This is helpful for Nevada casinos. After all, the Nevada Gaming Control Board previously warned of strict punishments for drugs on the premises.

Money laundering still a major concern

Conventions are a spot where casinos might be able to find a carveout. However, when it comes to the gaming floor, mairjuana is still very much not on the table.

Earlier this year, Wynn escorted a customer off the premises after learning he had ownership stake in businesses related to the cannabis industry.

Moreover, the American Gambling Association warned casinos to proceed with extreme caution when it comes to recreational drugs.

These are not just suggestions either. The U.S. Treasury policy for federal banking instutions requires them to divulge anything even tangentially related to the drug industry. Just because it is legal in the state does not make it okay on the federal level.

Given Attorney General Jeff Sessions general distaste for marijuana, don’t except the federal opinion on weed to change any time soon either.

But what about California?

With Los Angeles about to become marijuana-friendly, Nevadans are already worried that this new tourism economy which kicked off with such a bang might fizzle soon.

While dispensaries are operational throughout the state, Vegas in particular still lacks lounges where cannabis users can gather and partake together. Currently, marijuana use is essentially restricted to private homes.

Per the Los Angeles Times, the LA marijuana regulations are strict, particularly on how many dispensaries there can be and what areas of LA they can operate in.

However, the new competition in the closest major market does make the tourism industry wonder if there is a way to be more open-minded when it comes to marijuana.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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