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October 1, 2014

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Local Government:

Clark County Commission takes on new slot machine rules, medical marijuana licenses

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Justin M. Bowen

Dotty’s near Eastern and Serene in Henderson is shown Thursday, March 24, 2011.

The Clark County Commission will decide whether to change the rules governing slot machines at bars during its meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Gaming and tavern industry groups have been submitting suggested changes to the law for the past two weeks.

Commissioners also will discuss whether to increase the number of medical marijuana dispensary licenses it grants from 10 to 18 to meet the expected demand.

The meeting will be at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

Tavern gaming debate

The commission’s self-imposed 90-day window to make changes to its tavern gaming laws is closing quickly. Commissioners have worried that the law covering slot machines in bars is too vague and difficult to enforce. They also worry that several tavern chains such as Dotty’s are bringing in too much revenue from gaming and not enough from food and beverage sales.

In March, commissioners passed a three-month ban on new tavern gaming applications to give themselves time to consider tweaks to rules last updated in 2011.

Any changes could have widespread impacts on the hundreds of bars across the valley that rely on slot machine revenue. The issue has drawn interest from powerful gaming industry players, including the Nevada Resort Association and Stations Casino.

On Tuesday, the commission will hear suggested changes to the law submitted by representatives from the gaming and tavern industries.

If commissioners can agree on the changes, they’ll begin the process of drafting an ordinance that could be voted on in June.

High demand for medical marijuana

The first ounce of legal medical marijuana has yet to be sold in Nevada, but Clark County commissioners already are worried that demand might outpace supply.

Commissioners will discuss whether to increase the number of dispensary license applications it gives out next month.

Under the state medical marijuana law passed last year, all of Clark County — including Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas — will receive a maximum of 40 dispensary licenses.

Dispensaries will serve as the storefronts where patients can purchase medical marijuana.

Unincorporated Clark County is eligible for up to 10 of those licenses but already has received 90 applications from groups wanting to run a dispensary.

Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have doubts whether 10 dispensaries will be enough to meet demand. A clause in state law allows the county to increase its number of dispensaries if the commission deems it necessary to ensure convenient access throughout the region.

If the commission approves, it could give out eight more licenses to dispensaries in unincorporated Clark County, for a total of 18.

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