Nevada Gaming Control Board Sees First Case on Medical Marijuana
The Nevada Gaming Control Board handled its first case involving medical marijuana on Thursday. The Gaming Control Board told a Las Vegas restaurant it needed to find a new operator. The reason they were ordered to do so is to avoid connections to the medical marijuana business.
The Control Board was in a mood to send message to the other gaming operators of Nevada. Its chairman admitted as much in rendering the decision. The owner of the slot route operator in question, Nevada Gaming Partners, said he was surprised by the decision.
Crab Korner’s Slot Machines
Crab Corner on South Rainbow Boulevard had applied for a 2-year license for the establisment’s 5 slot machines. The panal recommended that the license be approved, but a particular operator was barred from being involved in the operation.
Nevada Gaming Partners, the slot machine route operator for Crab Corner, is connected to the marijuana industry after a June decision. Bruce Familiar is the owner of Nevada Gaming Partners. His wife, Sarah Familian, owns an 8% share of GB Sciences Nevada LLC. In June 2014, GB Sciences Nevada was awarded a medical marijuana dispensary license by the Clark County Commission. This was one of the 18 such licenses approved by the commission.
Spouses Split Business Interests
Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said that the husband and wife split their business interests in order to keep separation between the gaming and marijuana businesses. Still, Burnett says the operation was not enough of a separation for his comfort.
Burnett stated, “That is not enough of a disconnect for me. I’m happy to go forward with this location. I just want another slot operator.”
Medical Marijuana Is Still a Federal Crime
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is likely to err on the side of caution. Though medical marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada, the U.S. federal government bans marijuana usage. The feds are likely to overlook companies selling medical marijuana inside the state.
When casinos are involved, things could get spottier. Federal agencies already monitor casino transactions closely. When a lot of money changes hands in an informal setting like a casino, money laundering is a concern. The Gaming Control Board does not want to invite more scrutiny, so they maintain a strict ban on gaming interests having a connection to medical marijuana. The federal government still views the distribution, possession, and sale of marijuana is illegal.
Control Board Memorandum on Drug Policy
Control Board member Terry Johnson wrote a memorandum in May stating the Control Board’s stance on the issue. The memorandum said “unless the federal law is changed, the board does not believe investment or other involvement in a medical marijuana facility, or establishment by a person who has received a gaming approval or applied for a gaming approval, is consistent with the effective regulation of gaming.”
When asked whether the decision on Nevada Gaming Partners had a motive, Chairman Burnett said it was to “send a message” to other operators throughout the state. This could prove troublesome for several of the other 17 dispensaries which were issued a license by Clark County. For instance, 10% of Clinic Nevada D1 LLC is owned by Troy Herbst. Troy Herbst is a partner in JETT Gaming, which is also a Vegas-area slot machine route operator.
Nevada Gaming Partners Says It Is Not Guilty
Nevada Gaming Partners’ lawyer, Jennifer Roberts, said GB Sciences does not have a license and have no conducted any medical marijuana sales at present. Roberts, a Las Vegas gaming attorney, told the Control Board, “I hope this wouldn’t affect this gaming license. No business has been conducted and nothing illegal has taken place.”
Gaming Control Board on 888 Holdings Software
The Gaming Control Board also decided this week to select Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings as the online poker software designer for the system which will handle interstate poker between Delaware and Nevada. Earlier this year, the governors of both states signed an interstate online poker compact which the two states to share player databases. Gamblers from Nevada and Delaware will be able to play against each other, increasing the potential players communities for both states. For this to happen, technology must be designed to allow people on many systems to interface. The Control Board provisionally gave 888 Holdings, which owns 888poker, to design that software.
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