No More High Stakes: Nevada Gambling Law Now Excludes People Using Cannabis

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Just about everyone with a pulse has heard the slogan, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” which is how the city tries to lure people in. The idea that you can cut loose, get wasted, spend a ton of money on slots or at the blackjack table and maybe get married by Elvis in a drive-thru is the major appeal of this city. The idea is to leave your responsible, rule-following self at home and get a little crazy in the city of sin.

Since Nevada legalized adult recreational cannabis, sales have exceeded expectations. There’s no question that recreational cannabis is a thriving, if new, industry in Nevada that is generating an estimated $35 million in sales each month. Anyone over the age of 21, whether they’re a tourist or a resident, can legally buy cannabis at a state licensed dispensary. There are restrictions on its use. You can not consume it in public or in a moving vehicle, even if you are a passenger and not a driver.

Last week, faced with crowds of would-be 4-20 celebrants who could bring their money into the casinos, the Nevada Gaming Commission decided to change its rules. They want to ensure that people under the influence of cannabis don’t get to gamble at any of the state’s legal casinos.

The restrictions don’t stop there, however. The Nevada Gaming Commission also expects casinos to refuse alcoholic beverages to anyone who is visibly under the influence of cannabis. Casinos will likely need to train staff to identify and deal with would-be patrons who are clearly under the influence of cannabis. This bizarre double standard makes little sense.

A hand displaying a joint overlooking a Las Vegas casino

Image by VaporVanity.com under CC BY 2.0

While the existing rules and regulations do prohibit those who are exceptionally intoxicated with alcohol from gambling, that doesn’t stop casinos from passing out free cocktails to anyone on the casino floor. So long as you can pronounce your words and stand upright, you aren’t likely to be denied another drink or the opportunity to place a bet. Even the drunkest gambler can probably still pump coins into a slot machine without staff sending them off to sober up.

This new rule change isn’t just discrimination against cannabis users, it’s also nonsense. Why would the casinos want to turn away people who came to gamble, all because they choose to smoke instead of drinking? Only time will tell how this rule gets applied. For now, however, those who hope to toke and gamble had better do their best to remain discrete while visiting Vegas.

 

For previous Ladybud articles about discrimination toward cannabis users, click here!