The start of recreational cannabis sales in New Jersey will not give gamblers the green light to smoke marijuana on the floors of Atlantic City casinos.
No smoking a joint while playing roulette or puff-puff-pass around the poker table.
No pulling on a spliff and a slot machine at the same time.
No blunts at the blackjack table or blowing a bone at the craps table.
In case the message is not clear — smoking weed in Atlantic City casinos will not be permitted when legal sales begin Thursday.
State law explicitly prohibits indoor use (with a few exceptions), even where smoking tobacco is still allowed, such as Atlantic City casinos.
There is a bit of a gray area, however. The law does not say anything about smoking cannabis in a casino hotel room.
Um, people are already smoking weed in Atlantic City casinos
For all intents and purposes, NJ’s recreational weed law and how it applies to Atlantic City casinos is similar to another gambling mecca.
Marijuana is legal to buy, possess and use in Nevada but smoking pot inside a Las Vegas casino is not.
The same will be true in NJ and AC.
Unlike Vegas, Atlantic City does not even have a recreational cannabis dispensary. The lone pot shop on the AC Boardwalk is only for medical marijuana patients.
Obviously, none of this means people aren’t already smoking weed in and around the casinos. Or buying bud in Atlantic City.
And, they will continue to do so.
Atlantic City casinos know people are smoking pot on their properties but typically avoid addressing the issue. That is unless the behavior is disrupting business, endangering guests or employees, or law enforcement gets involved.
But they will draw the line at smoking weed on the gaming floor.
Gambling and pot are not two-of-a-kind for casinos
At some point down the road, it is very likely the gambling and cannabis industries will come together. After all, vices like to stick together.
But the biggest impediment to that happening is federal law.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and that poses significant challenges to banking laws, anti-money laundering provisions and employee protections. That is the primary reason commercial casinos in Nevada have avoided cannabis, despite the fact it has been legal for several years.
Several of Atlantic City’s casino parent corporations also have to be cognizant of their operations in jurisdictions where marijuana is not yet legal. Companies such as Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Hard Rock International are not going to jeopardize their gambling operations over weed.
Tribal lands may be the first to have both casino gaming and legal cannabis. Several Native American tribes are exploring ways to leverage their sovereign status to offer both on their lands.