LAS VEGAS — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday ordered a committee to make policy recommendations on the interactions between the state’s long-established gambling industry and a budding, yet exceedingly popular one: recreational marijuana.
The executive order Sandoval signed calls on the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee, which includes gambling regulators, casino representatives and others, to address a series of issues, including whether events catering to or promoting the marijuana industry can be held on the premises of a casino-resort.
The committee is expected to meet no later than Dec. 15.
“Gaming regulators have been clear on the prohibition of marijuana consumption on licensed gaming properties but there are additional policy considerations such as industry events and business relationships that should be contemplated,” Sandoval said in a statement.
Nevada launched legal sales of recreational cannabis on July 1. There’s been heavy demand from tourists, but the law only allows marijuana consumption in private homes. It’s prohibited in casinos, bars, restaurants, parks, concerts and on any federal property.
Licensed gambling businesses in the state cannot violate federal law. Doing so can get them in trouble with the state’s gambling regulators. So, gambling regulators have been clear: As long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, licensees are not to be a part of the cannabis industry.
A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Gaming Control Board and a policy committee member, said the gambling industry has numerous questions outside direct engagement with cannabis businesses, including whether casino-resorts can host marijuana-related conventions, as well as ways in which cash proceeds from marijuana transactions can find their way to casinos.
“So, even if marijuana isn’t used, is it appropriate to host a convention where bongs and pipes are being sold?” Burnett said. “And there are other questions, too. Any money that comes out of something illegal, when it is transferred to buy something, it’s considered money laundering … What if the patron gambles with that cash and the casino knows?”
In November, the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo, which is expected to draw more than 650 exhibitors, will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center near the Las Vegas Strip.
The policy committee is also expected to address whether casinos can receive or provide financing to a person or business that sells, cultivates or distributes the drug.
Sandoval, a Republican former federal judge, initially opposed legalization of recreational marijuana that voters approved in November but said he accepted the will of the people and pushed an early sale program to expedite collection of revenue from state cannabis taxes.
He ordered the policy committee to make recommendations by June.