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Will New Nevada Marijuana Law Create A Battle Of Cannabis vs. Casinos?

Written By Martin Derbyshire on June 23, 2017 - Last Updated on November 24, 2021
cannabis plant and $100 bills

[toc]America’s burgeoning cannabis business and its growing technology sector are suddenly at odds with the Las Vegas casino industry.

Wynn bans MassRoots CEOc

This battle of the bud blasted off earlier this month. That’s when the website Leafly reported that Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada permanently banned MassRoots CEO and High Times magazine owner Isaac Dietrich.

Leafly is the largest cannabis website in the world. MassRoots is a social network for the cannabis community. It allows its users to locate medical and retail marijuana dispensaries. MassRoots also offers users the opportunity to research and review marijuana products and services.

Dietrich told Leafly Wynn kicked him out of the casino after he applied for a Wynn Resorts Red Card. He claimed he was ejected because he is chairman and CEO of a technology company focused on cannabis.

Marijuana money not welcome at Wynn

In fact, Dietrich showed Leafly an alleged email from a Wynn Resorts compliance officer. This email claimed Wynn Las Vegas identified Dietrich’s business as “a marijuana-related entity” deriving income from marijuana.  The email went on to say Wynn Las Vegas was taking a conservative approach to the issue of state versus federal marijuana laws.

The Wynn also follows regulatory requirements ensuring its customers funds have been earned legally. Therefore, it refused to allow anyone who derives wealth from the marijuana business to gamble there.

Nevada voters legalized recreational marijuana this past November. Sales begin July 1, 2017. Marijuana use, possession, and sales remain illegal under federal law in the United States.

BudTrader calls for boycott

In the meantime, the CEO of another marijuana tech company says Dietrich’s ban calls for a Las Vegas boycott by marijuana professionals.

BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin posted a video on his Instagram account claiming he canceled a planned Las Vegas event this weekend. He did this because of the hostility displayed towards the cannabis industry.

BudTrader is an online medical marijuana marketplace providing classifieds for various medical marijuana products and services.

McLaughlin said BudTrader was moving the event to the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California. He also invited the MassRoots team and the entire legal cannabis industry to the event.

“If our money is no good in Las Vegas, then we’re happy to spend our entertainment dollars elsewhere,” he said in a press release.

The Las Vegas MJ Biz Conference

McLaughlin and Leafly both questioned how the Wynn is going to handle the upcoming MJ Biz Conference.  This is America’s largest cannabis trade show. The show runs annually in Las Vegas every November.

McLaughlin said BudTrader is likely to skip it this year unless Wynn’s stance changes. Leafly questioned if the Wynn plans to ban the upwards of 14,000 attendees from its casino floor.

This is clearly shaping up as a heavyweight tilt. North American marijuana sales hit $6.7 billion in 2016, according to a report by Arcview Market Research. In fact, sales in the growing legal cannabis industry are expected to rise above $20 billion by 2021.

In the meantime, the US commercial casino industry posted more than $40 billion in gaming revenue in 2016, according a report by the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Martin Derbyshire Avatar
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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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