Nevada Gaming Control Board Recommends Regulatory Changes

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) unanimously recommended changes to the state’s regulatory laws this week that would modify how casinos treat impaired patrons, as well as how out-of-state sportsbook customers cash their winnings.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chair Becky Harris, the first female to oversee the state regulatory agency, says casinos need to turn away not only drunks but also illegal and recreational drug users. (Image: David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

On Wednesday, the three-member panel endorsed revisions to Regulation 5, the “Operation of Gaming Establishments.” Subsection 5.011 “Grounds for Disciplinary Action” says casinos run the risk of incurring penalties should they fail to allow any activity “that is inimical to the public health, safety, morals, good order, and general welfare of the people of the State of Nevada.”

Under the current regulation, “permitting persons who are visibly intoxicated to participate in a gaming activity” is grounds for punitive consequences. The GCB has suggested that wording be updated to persons “who are visibly impaired by alcohol or any other drug.”

The slight modification is primarily the result of Nevada’s liberalized recreational marijuana market. Licensees could soon be forced to be on the lookout for not only individuals who have over-consumed alcohol, but also those under the influence of legal and illegal drugs.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will now consider formally approving the measure.

Rewriting the Sportsbook

The Nevada Gaming Control Board also backed a resolution that would differentiate the process for out-of-state sports bettors looking to cash their winning ticket slips.

Non-residents, should the recommendation be approved by the Gaming Commission, would be able to produce a photocopy of their driver license or US passport instead of furnishing the actual identification material when making or cashing a bet of $10,000 or more. Under current law, the sportsbook cashier must review the physical ID card.

The change is to allow out-of-state gamblers to cash their winning tickets by mail. According to the proposal, sportsbooks would be required to keep the photocopy identifications for a minimum of five years.

Another amendment would require sportsbooks to report not only suspicious wagers, but any suspicious activity. The new language specifies that sportsbooks be attentive to wagers placed by anyone directly involved with professional and collegiate sports (coaches, players, team personnel, etc).

Budding Problems

Nevada’s gaming agencies certainly won’t have any trouble filling up their meeting agendas in the coming months and years.

State regulators and casinos want little to do with marijuana due to its federal classification remaining an illegal Schedule 1 narcotic. However, last month the governor’s Gaming Policy Committee ruled that casino resorts can host conventions and meetings related to the cannabis industry.

The only stipulations are that the drug not be consumed on the property, and the events “do not promote illegal activities or foster incidents which might negatively impact the reputation of Nevada’s gaming industry.”

The state is also reviewing the ongoing qualifications of Wynn Resorts holding a gaming license in the aftermath of the sexual misconduct scandal surrounding its former chairman and CEO.

And then there’s sports betting, and the potential repeal of the federal ban that essentially allows Nevada to keep a monopoly on such wagering.

Throw in new security concerns in wake of October 1, and state regulators have plenty on their plates.

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Oregon allows pot delivery; other states are cautious;

It’s been legal to buy small amounts of marijuana in Colorado for over four years. But consumers can’t order buds, edibles or the marijuana concentrate called “shatter” through the mail — that’s illegal under federal law. And they can’t have weed delivered to their doorstep, like a pizza or an order of pad thai.

Lawmakers in Colorado and other states that pioneered recreational marijuana legalization have been reluctant to allow home delivery, even in an era when consumers are used to getting everything from diamond rings to toilet paper delivered.

Supporters say delivery makes it easier for medical marijuana patients to get their medicine, helps licensed marijuana businesses compete with the black market, and could reduce drugged driving. Opponents say delivery could make it easier for kids to buy drugs and could turn delivery cars into targets for thieves.

Skeptics also say launching a risky service could attract unwanted federal attention. Denver is concerned that marijuana delivery could cause additional safety issues and draw federal scrutiny, according to a statement from Eric Escudero, communications director for the city’s Department of Excises and Licenses. Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance that had told federal prosecutors not to target marijuana businesses that are licensed and regulated.

Colorado legislators last year rejected language in a bill that would have legalized marijuana delivery. Now they’re considering a pilot program instead.

Colorado, Washington state, Alaska and Washington, D.C., don’t allow home delivery of marijuana. Oregon, California and Nevada do, but services are not universal. In Oregon, state data show that close to two-thirds of counties have a dispensary licensed to make recreational marijuana deliveries. In California, marijuana industry advocates say that less than a third of cities and counties in the state allow retail marijuana sales, which could include home delivery.

But illegal and quasi-legal delivery businesses are widespread regardless of the law.

Washington, D.C., for instance, allows cannabis possession but not sales. So businesses, including delivery companies, are selling overpriced stickers, cookies and cold-pressed juice with a gift of cannabis thrown in. “At Juiced, we make sure that all our products make an impact that will enhance your spirit and your mood:),” says one such company’s website, with a coy smiley face emoji.

In Colorado, opponents of legalizing home delivery include law enforcement, county officials, the city of Denver and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“That notion of having a delivery person go around house to house and dropping off potentially significant amounts of marijuana — any amount of marijuana — I think we look at that as just a hazard,” Hickenlooper told the Cannabist, a website of the Denver Post, last spring when the Legislature was considering legalizing home delivery statewide. “And if we’re really serious about keeping marijuana out of the hands of teenagers,” he said, “delivery service offers more opportunity for that marijuana to get into the hands of kids.”

Home delivery could also bring marijuana sales into counties that don’t allow such sales, said Eric Bergman, policy director at Colorado Counties Inc., a membership association for county officials. More than half of the state’s counties prohibit marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction, according to state data. Some cities within those counties’ borders do allow marijuana businesses to operate.

Marijuana businesses, meanwhile, are lobbying for a change in the law. Advocates for a San Francisco-based marijuana delivery startup called Eaze, which some have called “Uber for weed,” have told Colorado lawmakers that technology can help allay some of their concerns.

For instance, the Eaze app blocks orders to places where delivery isn’t allowed. “Eaze has a whole team of people that monitors, is it legal in that city? Is it legal in that ZIP code?” said Elizabeth Conway, principal at Gide LLC, a firm that lobbies for cannabis and tech companies.

Not all cities oppose permitting marijuana delivery. Former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray argued that allowing delivery would help licensed businesses compete with the black market, potentially driving out illegal businesses. A supplemental budget bill on Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk would require regulators to study home delivery of medical marijuana.

States that do allow marijuana home delivery don’t allow just anyone to drive around with weed for sale. Oregon’s rules address when pot can be delivered (8 a.m. to 9 p.m.), where (only houses and apartments in the locality where the retailer is licensed), how often (one delivery per person per day), and to whom (adults over 21), for instance. Drivers can’t take more than $3,000 worth of weed products “out for delivery” at one time.

California’s long list of rules includes a requirement that delivery vehicles be outfitted with a GPS tracking system and prohibits “unmanned vehicles” such as autonomous cars from delivering weed.

Cities and counties in both states can opt out of allowing delivery or set more stringent rules, adding further complication. For instance, just 12 of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County are planning to regulate cannabis, said Joe Nicchitta, the countywide coordinator for the Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management. Some areas want to allow retail storefronts but not delivery services, some want to allow delivery but not storefronts, and some want both.

In recent years several California marijuana delivery drivers have been robbed, some at gunpoint. Such incidents have been cited by Colorado law enforcement groups in their arguments against allowing delivery services there.

“The concern is that there will be a race to the bottom,” Nicchitta said, where delivery businesses will “locate in the area with the most lax regulations and then deliver all over the county.”


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