Caesars Drops Marijuana Testing for Prospective Employees, Multiple Factors Affect Decision

Posted on: May 8, 2018, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: May 8, 2018, 04:00h.

Caesars Entertainment has stopped testing prospective employees for marijuana use. The company told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Monday that Nevada’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana had been a major factor in revising its policy, but it was also driven by the simple need to recruit from a wider pool of talent.

Caesars Entertainment drops marijuana testing
Following a November 2016 vote in Nevada, dispensaries like Essence on the Las Vegas Strip were free to sell recreational marijuana, but gaming regulators insist casino operators must steer clear of the drug. (Image: Edison Graff/Stardust Fallout)

“A number of states have changed their laws and we felt we might be missing some good candidates because of the marijuana issue and we felt that pre-screening for marijuana was, on the whole, counterproductive,” said Caesars’ Executive VP of Corporate Communications, Rich Broome.

But this is no carte blanche for employees to light up at will. Broome warned that if any employee was suspected of being under the influence at work, casino management would continue to screen for marijuana and other drugs.

“You want to get good people on board, but you still want to make sure people are straight when they’re working,” he said.

He added that there are also certain drivers’ jobs for which Caesars is obligated to employ pre-employment drugs testing in compliance with US Department of Transportation requirements.

Gambling Joints

Nevadans voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November 2016, but the casino industry was largely against the legalization campaign, despite the extra tourism it might bring. That’s because it came with additional regulatory headaches.

Nevada gaming regulators have made it clear that as long as the federal and state government are at odds with the issue, operators must not permit the consumption of the drug on their premises, nor engage with any business that sells marijuana.

However, many regulators also feel recreational marijuana is a political football that has been tossed onto their laps and have hinted their stance is not carved in stone.

Support in High Places

There’s also some indication that the federal stance may be softening. In April, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta suggested at a congressional hearing that employers should take a “step back” on drug screening.

“We have all these Americans that are looking to work. Are we aligning our … drug testing policies with what’s right for the workforce?”

Thoran Towler, CEO of the Nevada Association of Employers, told the RJ that the most common question he is asked is, “Where do I find employees?”

“They say, ‘I have to get people on the casino floor or make the beds, and I can’t worry about what they’re doing in their spare time,’” he said

Towler suggests that around 1/10th of his 400-strong membership have stopped screening for marijuana, hoping to expand the pool from which they may draw qualified candidates.