It is no secret that casinos happily offer free alcoholic beverages to gamblers (just be sure to tip your server!) so that they continue to gamble and continue to gamble poorly. A drunk casino patron is one thing, but what about a high one? It appears that two Native American tribes are going to test things out, as they plan on opening cannabis stores very close to their major casinos.
According to cannabis industry hub website Leafly, both the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), which owns Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina, are both looking to open “mega-dispensaries” next year.
The Mashantucket Pequots’ marijuana store will be less than half a mile from Foxwoods. Connecticut legalized marijuana on July 1 and licensed retail stores should open next summer. Leafly confirmed the project with a quarter of the tribe’s eight-member legislative government.
The more interesting project is that of the EBCI in North Carolina. Marijuana is illegal in the state – it was partially decriminalized, but even possession of a half ounce or less is a non-jailable misdemeanor. There is a medical marijuana bill alive in the state legislature.
So how would the tribe open a cannabis store near Harrah’s Cherokee, one of the biggest casinos in the region and home to WSOP Circuit events? The store would be on tribal property and as the tribes are sovereign and don’t have to abide by state marijuana laws, they can do what they please with a dispensary. On top of that, any tax revenue they would generate they would take, rather than handing it to the state.
That said, it will still be interesting to see what happens with the EBCI’s store, since opening one in North Carolina is unlikely to sit well with many.
The Cherokees are looking at several different locations for its dispensary. The tribe’s top choice is to convert a huge bingo hall about a mile away from Harrah’s Cherokee. The location has been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.
Cherokee tribe’s governmental affairs liaison Jeremy Wilson told Leafly, “This is going to be the only legal cannabis dispensary within hundreds of miles around. So we’re preparing to accommodate large volumes of people. We can’t do that with a mom-and-pop location.”
Both the Mashantucket and Cherokee stores will be enormous, over 25,000 square feet each, with two drive-throughs and a smoking lounge.