The Nevada Gaming Commission knows that it walks the line with the federal government’s interpretation of laws permitting gambling. The commission is now concerned that state legalized marijuana in Nevada will overstep the boundaries and possibly push the federal government to get involved.
Tourists represent a huge portion of the money coming into Las Vegas, but many of them are drawn now to the legal recreational marijuana that Sin City offers. However, there are very few places for tourists to use cannabis legally because public consumption it is not permitted. Casinos want to explore their alternatives to allow their guests to use cannabis in the hotel, but not at the risk of losing their gaming licenses. Can you think of an alternative for casinos to allow guests to stay in rooms where cannabis use would be allowed?
Nevada’s legalization of recreational marijuana has made life easier for users but more difficult for gaming companies, something the Nevada Gaming Commission hopes to address in a special meeting on Thursday.
Legalized weed presents a number of problems for the gaming industry: Using and selling pot is still a violation of federal law, and Nevada’s regulators don’t want gaming companies to be associated with something that is technically illegal.
State gaming laws and regulations specifically prohibit behavior by gaming licensees that would discredit the industry. Violating a federal law, Nevada’s gaming regulators have said, could do exactly that.
Members of the commission also worry that the federal government may take a stronger interest in Nevada’s gaming industry if the state appears unconcerned about pot use.
“Were we to take a position that would allow a federal law to be broken and not act on it, that has a great chance of inviting federal intervention,” Commissioner Randolph Townsend said during a commission meeting last year shortly after the state’s voters passed Question 2 to legalize recreational use.
Among the potential effects are licensing of key employees such as casino executives and the registration of front-line employees such as dealers and hosts, especially if they have business relationships with the marijuana industry.
It could also affect vendors who work with both casinos and the marijuana industry, such as payment-processing firms or companies providing information technology services. In many cases, these businesses also have to be licensed to do business with casinos in Nevada.
Metro Police have said they’ll approach enforcing the pot laws on the Strip as they would any other misdemeanor violation in Clark County.
Metro spokesperson Larry Hadfield said Metro’s understanding of the new law is clear: You can’t consume weed in public. “A private residence is the key,” Hadfield said.
However, smoking pot in public is a misdemeanor, and Hadfield said that unless officers spot another crime being committed, people caught smoking pot in public will be cited (given a ticket) and sent on their way.
However, the law doesn’t say pot use must occur in someone’s home. It only says weed cannot be consumed in a public place (or a moving vehicle or a marijuana store). What makes a space public in this context is uncertain.
Is a hotel room that can be rented to anyone a public space? Is a meeting room or convention space public if it is rented to a specific group and not open to the general public while that group is using it?
“We’re asking for your guidance,” said Bill Young, chief compliance officer and head of security for Station Casinos in the same commission meeting last year. “Whether it will be allowed in your cars or in the privacy of the hotel rooms.”
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