Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed an executive order Sept. 20, calling on the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee to make recommendations on two seemingly unlikely industries: gambling and recreational marijuana, reported US News.
It’s the interaction between the two that concerns the governor. The policy committee includes gambling regulators, casino representatives, and others.
Chief among the issues they will address is whether casino-resorts can host events or promote the marijuana industry. The 12-member committee includes the governor.
“Gaming regulators have been clear on the prohibition of marijuana consumption on licensed gaming properties but there are additional policy considerations such as industry events and business relationships that should be contemplated,” Sandoval said in a statement issued with the executive order.
Will marijuana make its way into casinos?
Nevada legalized marijuana and kicked off recreational sales July 1. Even so, while consumers can purchase pot, they can only consume it in the privacy of their own homes. Nevada prohibits consumption in casinos, bars, and restaurants. The list also includes concerts and federal property.
According to US News, the gambling industry concerns span from whether casinos can have direct interaction with cannabis businesses, whether they can host related conventions; and whether the cash from these transactions can make their way into the casinos.
The Marijuana Business Conference and Expo will make its way to the Strip in November with over 650 exhibitors at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The committee will meet no later than Dec. 15, then make its recommendations by June 15, 2018.
Nevada Gaming Commission started the conversation
The Nevada Gaming Commission already began discussing policy concerning both industries last month.
Its chairman, Tony Alamo, told The Las Vegas Review-Journal that the policy committee is the right place for these discussions. He continues to field gambling licensee concern calls. These calls go back to 2014 when industry notices were first issued. He said the commission wants to solve the confusion.
Up until this point, A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Gaming Control Board, advised Nevada gambling licensees to steer clear of marijuana to avoid federal violations. Burnett had largely kept licensees on track. The recent recreational status of marijuana changed the playing field, he said to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
“We need some action – one way or another – from the federal government,” he said to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Knowing what we’re supposed to enforce would be helpful. It’s not been easy. We’ve had to have a lot of discussion. We’ve really dealt with it intently. The Gaming Policy Committee, though, it’s an excellent tool and should prove helpful to the conversation.”
A leading advocate for the marijuana industry, State Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom, told The Review-Journal that Nevada is one of the first to have these conversations.
“These are all new frontiers, but we can’t just stick our heads in the sand,” he said to The Review Journal. “It’s a great business opportunity for Nevada that we need to be talking about.”
Next steps: Something to talk about
In his release, Sandoval said he plans to balance the recent legalization of marijuana with the state’s “gold standard gaming reputation.”
Here are the issues at hand (as per the governor’s release accompanying the order):
- The propriety of events on licensed gaming premises that cater to or promote the use, sale and cultivation or distribution of marijuana;
- The respectability of a licensee contracting with or maintaining a business relationship with an individual or entity engaged in the sale, cultivation or distribution of marijuana;
- The acceptableness of a licensee receiving financing from or providing financing to an individual, entity or establishment that sells, cultivates, or distributes marijuana; and
- Any other matter necessary per the Chair.
Already, Sandoval is ensuring the marijuana industry is well-regulated, restricted, and respected.