Las Vegas Casinos Showing No Love To Cannabis


When cannabis was first legalized in the state of Nevada, stoners around the world were excited to finally find their place in the bright light city. These dreams were quickly shattered as casinos and hotels on the strip spoke out against any cannabis use on the premises. This seemed like a no-brainer for many since all gambling institutions are closely monitored by a governing body that still regards the cannabis plant as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

The federal government in the states has a very strong stance against recreational (and sometimes medical) cannabis, but the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee still met this week. The goal of the meeting was for casino licensees to sit down with some major cannabis players to “gather information, engage in discussion, and provide recommendations on policies related to the potential interactions”. There is no room to budge on selling or smoking cannabis in casinos or casino-hotels, but many on both sides of the conversation believe that there is a need to set more boundaries regarding the crossing investments and business matters between the two industries.


The committee spoke extensively about the levels of involvement a casino owner could take in a cannabis business. What the conversation came down to was that cannabis and casino business could not have intersections. Most seriously, if a casino business and cannabis business are cross-invested the transactions could be considered money laundering in the eyes of the US federal government. Many concluded that these two industries (Nevada casinos and cannabis) should continue growing separately.

“Any financial relationship between a casino and a marijuana business potentially exposes the casino to suit under [the] civil [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act],” Brian Barnes, lawyer with Cooper & Kirk, PLLC said.

With that settled, those at the meeting also took time to discuss the legality of casinos and government-owned businesses hosting events for cannabis companies. Most recently the hugest show in cannabis business took over the Las Vegas Convention Center, a government-owned building. This tradeshow brought around 18,000 attendees and expects to continue growing in 2018. Still, with these numbers, MGM CEO and Chairman Jim Murren ended the conversation stating that it was equally as complicated as it was important to “take some time” to really digest what they spoke about.

That being said, there will not be any cannabis use on the casino floor in our near future. But perhaps one day we could enjoy a cannabis industry event on the strip. The Nevada Gaming Policy Committee is set to meet again in early 2018 to finalize their decision on this matter.

December 1, 2017

by Cara Wietstock

Profile photo of Cara Wietstock
Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she put down her budtender hat and dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the cannabis plant fuel the passion in her posts.


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