Gaming commissioners allow casinos to host marijuana conferences without jeopardizing licenses

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As state agencies wrestle with regulating everything that comes with recreational marijuana, one industry has been very “hands-off.”  On Monday, gaming regulators eased up just a bit.

In fact, it’s worth noting that very carefully some casinos have hosted marijuana-related conventions just in the past couple of years. State regulators say it’s time to allow that to happen more openly and pass a resolution today allowing gaming licensees to host those conferences without jeopardizing their gaming licenses.

Tourism and pot: The two are supposed to work hand-in-hand. Especially, after voters passed recreational marijuana that relies heavily on the 40 plus million annual visitors.  But it’s all a delicate balance considering the law says you can only smoke in your home, so there is nowhere tourists can legally smoke pot.

Federal rules prohibiting transporting it out of the state, and casinos have stayed clear of anything to do with marijuana.

One casino executive hopes it stays that way.

“Hosting a convention for marijuana business at a casino actually provides the perfect venue for money laundering by those attending the convention,” said Richard Tomasso, the VP, of Mesquite Gaming.

The gaming policy commission chaired by Governor Brian Sandoval generally agrees, but commissioners, along with the chairs of the gaming control board and gaming commission — are making an exception for marijuana business conferences.

Governor Sandoval opposed to recreational marijuana, but he supports the change.

“It made the absolute distinction that none of our licensees can participate in the marijuana industry, nor can they do business with anybody within the marijuana industry,” Gov. Sandoval said. 

Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Dr. Tony Alamo is behind the resolution, which allows for casinos to serve simply as host sites for cannabis conventions. However, no marijuana can be on site, nor can it be sold there.

Alamo says the language of the resolution should keep gaming licensees from running afoul of the feds.

“At the end of the day, you know, these resolutions have every gaming licensee to still hold true the reputation of the Nevada gaming industry, and the gold standard we all enjoy,” said Alamo.

It’s a small step forward as uncertainty surrounds federal marijuana policy.

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