Marijuana legalization in Nevada creates dilemas for casinos

In last Novembers election, voters from Nevada decided to legalize personal, recreational use of marijuana.  While the vote passed in November, legalization does not begin until July 1st, which has given casinos and the Nevada Gaming Commission little time to prepare for what will certainly be a major event in the history of Las Vegas gambling.  For reasons unknown, the Nevada Gaming Commission took and anti-pot stance and continues to warn casinos against allowing marijuana use on their properties.   The powerful gaming commission even went so far as to say that casinos that allow marijuana use could be putting their licensing in jeopardy since marijuana is still illegal at a federal level.

Some relief and sanity came recently when by chance, the owner of a casino in Colorado filed for a gambling license in Nevada and was questioned by the five-person panel.   Of course, Colorado was the first state to make recreational marijuana legal and so far studies have shown little negative impacts, but with significant upside tax revenues for the state.  When asked about the interaction with legalized marijuana and casinos, Jacobs Entertainment representatives stated that at their Colorado casinos, marijuana is treated similarly to alcohol.   When an incident occurs with an employee, they are tested for both alcohol and marijuana and disciplinary action is taken accordingly.  This is, of course, the stance taken by pro-pot groups around the country who see marijuana as actually a less destructive drug than alcohol.

With so many states jumping on board with the legalization of marijuana, it is hard to predict if legalization in Nevada will have much of an effect in Las Vegas.  The fear of the Nevada Gaming Commission is that it will have a negligible positive impact on the number of tourists who come to Las Vegas, but will a larger negative impact on the workforce.  It is important to note that the Nevada Gaming Commission has always been, despite the nature of their business, conservative leaning.  It will probably take another decade for the NGC to more accurately represent the constituents of the state of Nevada.