Nevada Gaming Commission Worried Legalized Marijuana Could Hurt Casinos

Legalized marijuana is often embraced by businesses and politicians in the states where it's passed. But in Nevada, some worries are arising about how the newly legal cannabis could hurt established institutions, primarily casinos.

The Nevada Gaming Commission, which regulates casinos and gambling in the state, is holding a special meeting to discuss what their stance be towards legalized marijuana. Many in the casino industry see marijuana as a possible threat to their own legal status. Nevada laws require businesses to avoid behavior that could discredit the industry. Since marijuana is illegal at the federal level, embracing legalized cannabis could be seen as discrediting. 

Another issue is the wrath of the federal government. While Nevada's gaming industry has long avoided intense scrutiny at the national level, they fear that would change if casinos began embracing marijuana that's still technically illegal according to federal law. 

“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,” said Nevada Gaming Commissioner Randolph Townsend.

Proposals to avoid such conflicts include restricting individuals to involved in the gaming industry from also getting involved in recreational marijuana, and only allowing businesses to either get licenses to work in gaming or cannabis but not both.

Another issue facing casinos is whether guests should or should not be allowed to use cannabis products in their hotels. According to Nevada law, anyone can purchase marijuana but it can not be used in a public space. But what is a "public space" when it comes to casinos? Is a hotel room, which is available for reservation by anyone, a public space? What about a conference room reserved by a private group?

The Nevada Gaming Commission will attempt to resolve many of these issues as soon as possible. They say they want to make sure all casinos are both following federal and state laws, which can be difficult when those laws direct contradiction with each other.


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