Already High on Millennials, Las Vegas Hopes Recreational Pot Attracts Younger Tourists

Posted on: June 28, 2017, 01:50h. 

Last updated on: June 28, 2017, 01:52h.

This weekend, the first recreational marijuana dispensaries will open throughout Nevada, and Las Vegas is betting that younger tourists will travel to Sin City to test out its “budding” market.

Millennials strongly favor the legalization of marijuana, with 7 out of 10 of those between the ages of 18 and 35 saying the consumption of pot should be legal, according to Pew Research.

millennials Las Vegas recreational marijuana
Recreational marijuana dispensaries open July 1st all over Nevada, including near the Las Vegas Strip, and the town is hoping millennials flock to town to get their hands on legal weed. (Image: Essence Vegas)

Beginning at midnight Pacific time on July 1, some 37 Las Vegas Valley medical marijuana facilities will be allowed to sell their products for recreational use. Though pot businesses are prohibited from operating directly on the Strip, a few are just a stone’s, or stoned, throw away.

Nevada voters approved recreational marijuana use last November. In a recent report from Governor Brian Sandoval’s (R) office, forecasts predict that over 60 percent of cannabis purchases will be made by tourists.

It’s yet another move by Nevada to maintain its status as America’s foremost playground. The end of the prohibition will have the [positive effect of bringing millennials to the desert, a generation that has displayed less interest in traditional gambling than its parents.

“Everything we know shows that millennials are very pro-marijuana, and that’s the new marketing push,” Nevada State Senator Tick Segerblom (D-Clark County) told the Las Vegas Sun.  “This is a game changer for Las Vegas and tourism.”

Marijuana Use Confined

When recreational pot sales light up this weekend, a new era in Nevada will begin. But don’t expect to walk through Las Vegas casinos getting high from secondary smoke: by law, its use will only be permissible inside private residences.

The drug remains illegal under federal law, and its classification continues to be a Schedule I narcotic. According to the Nevada Gaming Commission, casinos are at risk of losing their gambling licenses should they fail to adequately thwart off marijuana use on their floors.

Smoking or consuming marijuana in public spaces can result in a $600 fine, and driving under the influence of the drug can cost up to $1,000 on the first offense, plus jail time.

That’s why the excitement over recreational marijuana bringing throngs of millennials to Las Vegas might not immediately pay off for casinos.

Skill-based gaming machines and eSports arenas and tournaments are still in early development, and resorts are actively trying to find the best attraction for the 20 and 30-something visitor. But more millennials will likely visit Las Vegas with weed legalized than without, and that’s almost certainly welcomed news to most gaming operators.

Even if they don’t gamble much, they’re more likely to shell out for the 5,000 percent markup nightclub booze than any Baby Boomer, and revenue is revenue.

Rush of Mellowed Clients

Pot producers and dispensers are readying for an expected influx of customers for the already busy July Fourth weekend. Businesses accustomed to greeting a few dozen medical marijuana patients a day might soon see hundreds of patrons looking for a high walk through their doors.

In the lead-up to the July 1 kickoff, dispensaries have been stocking up on marijuana flowers, edibles, and concentrates. That’s because come Saturday, all deliveries from cultivation growers to dispensaries will need to be carried out by licensed liquor distributors.

Segerblom, a longtime activist for marijuana legalization, plans to celebrate the first recreational sale at Reef Dispensaries’ flagship store just steps behind the Fashion Show Mall located on the Strip.