Nevada Casinos, Marijuana Industry Can Be Convention Buds, as Long as Attendees Don’t Gamble

Posted on: March 7, 2018, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: March 7, 2018, 04:02h.

Nevada casinos should continue to stay away from most things that involve the marijuana industry, but at this week’s Gaming Policy Committee (GPC), the panel recommended that resorts be permitted to host conventions related to pot, which has been legal in the Silver State, both recreationally and medicinally, since July 2017.

Nevada casinos marijuana conventions
Nevada’s Gaming Policy Committee continues to hash out what can and cannot occur vis-a-vis marijuana regulations for the state’s casinos. Seen here are Governor Brian Sandoval, left, and Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo. (Image: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In what was likely his last GPC, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) met with the 12-member group on Tuesday to discuss a proposed resolution from Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo. The chairman sought to clarify the state’s stance on marijuana conventions and trade shows that take place inside casino resorts.

While the GPC affirmed that casinos cannot allow marijuana into their resorts, nor enter into business relationships with entities that sell, cultivate, or distribute cannabis products, the task force did endorse Alamo’s proposition that certain conventions and meetings linked to the industry should be permitted.

“The Committee recommends permitting licensees to host conventions, trade shows, or similar conferences that may be related to marijuana but whose focus is primarily on the fostering of business relationships between participants, exchange of knowledge related to the trade, and other trade or educational activities that do not facilitate the actual possession or consumption of marijuana,” the declaration states.

The GPC additionally suggested that gaming licensees wishing to welcome such events “do not promote illegal activities or foster incidents which might negatively impact the reputation of Nevada’s gaming industry.”

With the resolution endorsed, the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission are next expected to review the recommendations.

No ‘High’ Rollers

Nevada voters approved the use of recreational marijuana in 2016, but the law bars consumption of pot in any public place. Operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana is also illegal.

The federal government maintains that marijuana possession and consumption violates the Controlled Substances Act. It’s defined as a Schedule I drug, the same classification as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

According to the DEA’s own fact sheet on pot:

Marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Nevada casinos must adhere to both state and federal laws, which is why cannabis won’t be welcomed into resorts anytime soon. Casinos are also tasked with preventing gamblers who make a living selling marijuana from playing, a rule subset that could make attracting any kind of industry-related conventions both commercially unbeneficial and pretty boring for attendees.

“The gaming industry and the marijuana industry shall not meet,” Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo declared. “This is regarding conferences and conventions. At the end of the day, this resolution has every gaming licensee to still hold true the reputation of the Nevada gaming industry and the gold standard we all enjoy.”

Out-of-Joint Goals

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) reported earlier this month that January marked the eighth consecutive decline in visitor arrivals to the city. The agency credited high room rates due to a reduction in inventory, along with convention schedule changes, as the downturn culprits.

Allowing casinos to welcome conferences and conventions related to marijuana could provide a new influx of traffic, but some have concerns. Mesquite Gaming VP Richard Tomasso told Las Vegas Now, “Hosting a convention for marijuana business at a casino actually provides the perfect venue for money laundering by those attending the convention.”

Casinos are required to comply with federal anti-money laundering laws set by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).