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Las Vegas Casino Bans MassRoots CEO For Cannabis Ties

June 12, 2017
Las Vegas, USA - July 11,2011: Wynn Las Vegas is a luxury resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise.The resort covers 215 acres
The gambling industry’s year-old program intended to prevent money-laundering in America’s casinos has resulted in one of the cannabis industry’s highest-profile media executives being banned from gambling at the Wynn & Encore Las Vegas casino.

Wynn banned Isaac Dietrich for his 'source of wealth in the marijuana field.'

Isaac Dietrich, CEO of Denver-based social media platform MassRoots and one the investors who recently purchased controlling interest in High Times magazine and its affiliated businesses, signed up for Wynn Resorts’ Red Card reward program while gambling at the Las Vegas casino last week. Wynn’s Red Card program promises exclusive rates and promotions. Dietrich instead received a red card of a different sort — ejection from the casino.

“I can confirm that I was permanently banned from gambling at Wynn Resorts on June 7, 2017, due to my role as chairman and CEO of a publicly-traded technology company focused on the cannabis sector,” Dietrich told Leafly in an email today.

A ‘Marijuana Related Entity’

In a June 7 email to Wynn Resorts’ compliance officer noting that MassRoots’ stock is traded by many of the same institutions that have holdings in Wynn Resorts, Dietrich explained that MassRoots is a technology company that does not deal directly in cannabis.

A response to Dietrich’s email, apparently from Wynn Resorts’ compliance officer Larry Whelan, begged to differ.

“If I recall correctly, the customer due diligence procedures required by the Wynn Las Vegas compliance program identified your business as a marijuana related entity that derives its income from marijuana businesses. Unfortunately, this puts your source of wealth in the marijuana field – as your business is being paid with proceeds from the sale of marijuana.

“Our regulatory requirements are not limited to identifying businesses that facilitate the sale of marijuana – we are obligated to identify the source of wealth of our customers to ensure the funds have been lawfully earned.

“The ‘state vs. federal’ debate will continue at much higher levels than this email.  Until that debate is clearly resolved with respect to the Bank Secrecy Act, the Wynn Las Vegas leadership team has chosen to take the more conservative approach.”


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Leafly was unable to independently confirm the email from Whelan to Dietrich. Michael Weaver, Wynn’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, responded to Leafy’s questions, saying, “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on our guests.” Weaver did not address the email’s authenticity and did not respond to follow-up email and telephone questions about the Wynn’s compliance program practices or the due diligence cited in the email attributed to Whelan.

The email attributed to Whelan left the door open for Dietrich to appeal his ban from Wynn’s casino.

“If we’ve misunderstood your business model, please feel free to share that information with me and I’ll be happy to review,” the email attributed to Whelan said.

According to MassRoots’ investor relations information, the publicly traded company “is one of the largest technology platforms for the regulated cannabis industry,” enabling consumers to make educated cannabis purchasing decisions through community-driven reviews.


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Trade Show Visitors = Money Launderers?

The American Gaming Association, a national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, instituted its anti-money laundering compliance program last year. The program was intended to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in compliance with the federal Bank Secrecy Act. Recently updated anti-money laundering compliance best practices are detailed here.

Dietrich’s running afoul of anti-money laundering compliance at the Wynn casino over the source of his income comes as recreational cannabis sales are set to begin throughout Nevada on July 1.

If the Wynn’s policy becomes active among other resorts, it could cause some interesting conflicts, as Las Vegas has become the defacto capital of cannabis industry trade shows. The annual MJ Biz Conference, America’s largest cannabis trade show, is held there every November. Last year the show attracted more than 10,000 attendees. This year it moves to the Las Vegas Convention Center and is expected to draw upwards of 14,000 guests. That’s a lot of visitors to ban from the casino floor.

Ed Murrieta's Bio Image

Ed Murrieta

Ed Murrieta is a veteran lifestyle journalist and multimedia producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Cannabist,, Leafly, and broadcast on the syndicated public radio show The Splendid Table.

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  • Ralph Schnickelvitz

    This sounds more like he was trying to get a marker or wire funds in to gamble with. To do this maybe the Wynn | Encore require you sign up for a Red card, but getting the red card doesn’t require verification of where the funds are obtained?

  • Greg Callow

    This is the same issue the marijuana industry continues to face with the banking industry. The federal government considers casinos to be financial institutions and they regulate them as such, marijuana is illegal on the federal level therefore they consider any money derived through the marijuana industry to be illicit funds. It really is that simple, if El Chapo paid you to develop an app for his cartel and you used that money to gamble at a casino, the government would go after you and the casino you spent that money at. Mr. Dietrich clearly is not in the atmosphere of El Chapo, but consider for a moment that the federal government still considers marijuana to be an illegal narcotic and this new administration is giving every indication they intend to ramp up enforcement of it.

    As long as the federal government takes this view, this is the unfortunate reality the industry faces when dealing with banks, and other federally regulated industries. So I don’t expect that this is the policy of just one casino, it is more likely this one was the first to catch it (or to not overlook it). I’d further expect now that Mr. Dietrich has gone public with this issue, it will make it far easier for other casinos to catch it, and they certainly cannot overlook it now. When you look at the millions of dollars in fines casinos have faced in the last few years, can you really blame them?

    I can empathize with Mr. Dietrich, but his anger is misplaced in this instance. This is a Washington DC issue, not a Vegas issue.

    • Ron Voller

      Well put, and a simple Google search of MassRoots will show that this casino is not alone. Looks like last year NASDAQ rejected MassRoots due to their involvement with marijuana, Why are we shocked and outraged that a casino adheres to the same regulation?

    • Ron Voller

      Well put, and a simple Google search of MassRoots will show that this casino is not alone. Looks like last year NASDAQ rejected MassRoots on the grounds that they “could have been seen as aiding the distribution of an illegal substance”. Why are we shocked and outraged that a casino adheres to the same regulation, who do you think has more sway with the federal government a casino or the NASDAQ?

    • 360dunk

      Horse manure. Dietrich’s money was not ‘derived through the marijuana industry’. Owning a share of High Times has nothing to do with the cannabis industry but everything to do with the media industry. High Times does NOT facilitate the sale of marijuana….it reports on the plant. That’s what magazines do. Ask yourself if money laundering is involved with some high profile executive applying for a casino player’s card. Because that’s the spirit of the law we’re talking about. Money laundering….repeat the phrase. MONEY LAUNDERING!!! Was there a money laundering potential in this case, Steve Wynn???? Of course not. No more than any other human who gambles at a casino. Steve Wynn….wake up, fool.

  • Eterno

    Focus on cannabis instead of how immigrants can open multiple nails shops on the same street and none of them go under…

  • Para Salin

    Gambling is now so over-saturated with Lotto and scratchers and casinos and tracks and slots galore. The old retired pensioner day gamblers are dying off. I’m not interested in what they have to offer. So, I say: “f**k ya, Vegas.”

  • Stuart Blessman


  • Mary Jane

    LOL …. bitch can’t even admit he’s in the cannabis business like a real man (or woman) would! Tell the truth bitch. You are in the cannabis business. This is why we are all still struggling, because of bitches like this that won’t stand up for what we all do for a living. TELL THE TRUTH! Also, why are you gambling in Vegas? Didn’t your business almost go under last year? Are you using investment money to gamble? That will land you in jail faster than cannabis will chump!

  • JonnyMo

    It would make more sense for the casinos to invest in cannabis, welcome its many conventions, and put pressure on Trump and his admin to lay off the industry and allow it to thrive. Hard to really say Trump’s a capitalist with his stance on cannabis. Free market? Hardly.

    But golly, let’s make sure those casinos, cigarette makers and alcohol producers are all well taken care of. Oh, and let’s not forget all those fine doctors and pharma co’s dispensing opioids like breath mints. Those are the fine upstanding folks keeping this country together.