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World Series of Poker Boots Cannabis Sponsor Blüm From Casino

July 13, 2018
Play opens on the first day of the World Series of Poker main event, Monday, July 2, 2018, in Las Vegas. Players often wear sponsor logos, but Nevada casinos are wary of cannabis-branded clothing. (AP Photo/John Locher)
When two-time World Series of Poker bracelet-winner Michael Mizrachi signed a six-figure deal with cannabis dispensary Blüm this summer, neither Mizrachi nor Blüm executives thought it would land the two parties in hot water.

'Nobody had a problem with' the Blüm logo until the WSOP Main Event hit ESPN last week.

After cruising to his third-ever WSOP bracelet at Las Vegas’ Rio Casino & Hotel last month – and a .24 million paycheck – Mizrachi, 37, smiled as he posed for a championship photo next to his chip stack, proudly displaying the dispensary’s logo on the chest of his black collared shirt.

“Nobody had a problem with it,” he said.

For the nationally-televised WSOP Main Event, which started July 2, Mizrachi and Blüm agreed to move the dispensary logo from his chest to the front of his hat, where it’d be more visible to an estimated 615,000 daily viewers watching the tournament on ESPN and hundreds of additional viewers in attendance.

Where’d the Logo Go?

But after just three days, during a July 5 evening break in the main event poker tournament, Mizrachi was confronted by a tournament official.

Mizrachi and hat in action.

His cannabis advertisement had to be concealed as part of the host venue’s “no-tolerance” policy toward marijuana, the official said.

Blüm Director of Operations Mikel Alvarez watched the drama unfold on a live stream from one of the company’s three Las Vegas dispensaries.

Alvarez, who oversees Blüm’s four stores across Nevada in addition to its two locations in California, was shocked to see his client – after weeks of representing the company – suddenly wearing the Blüm hat backward with a piece of duct tape over the logo for which they had paid the poker player so handsomely.

“All of a sudden when they came back our logo was covered,” Alvarez said. “The whole thing was a surprise, and honestly, it was just disappointing.”

Rio: No Pot, Guns, Cigs, Crypto, or Porn

World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky said the Rio, operated by casino mega-chain Caesars Entertainment, specifically prohibits advertising for companies in the marijuana, cryptocurrency, firearm and pornography industries, as well as illegal drugs and tobacco products in its rules issued to players prior to the WSOP.

Rio owner Caesars Entertainment prohibits advertising for marijuana, cryptocurrency, firearms, pornography, and tobacco.

The decision to enforce the rules is at the discretion of tournament officials, who Palansky said are “often” asking players to change shirts or cover logos that violate tournament policy.

Mizrachi said this summer’s Las Vegas tournaments represent the first time he has ever worn a cannabis advertisement in over 10 years of playing at the World Series of Poker. It’s also the first time he has ever been forced to cover an ad. Palansky said it’s the first time he could remember a marijuana company getting busted at the WSOP, too.

Mizrachi admitted to accidentally overlooking a section in the waiver form signed by players prior to entering the tournament that they’ve read and understand all of the Rio’s WSOP rules. But the anti-marijuana rule is hardly surprising given casinos’ strict policies against cannabis dating back to the plant’s Nevada legalization in 2015.

In the wake of recreational marijuana’s legalization in 2017, Nevada Gaming Commission Chair Tony Alamo repeated in several interviews and public hearings that the marijuana industry and casino industry “shall not meet,” in the state. Casinos found with marijuana-consuming guests were subject to having their license revoked from the gaming commission, due in part to the plant’s classification as a Schedule I drug per the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Alamo said.

While many of Las Vegas’ 42 million annual tourists routinely sneak marijuana products into their hotel rooms, Alamo said it was up to casinos to crack down “as best they can.”

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Reached Wednesday for comment, Alamo said his stances have not changed, despite efforts at the federal level to have the plant rescheduled and one day legalized.

“This is all because it is against federal law,” Alamo explained. “If it stops being against federal law, all of our restrictions are null and void. But as of now, both industries will have to survive on their own merits.”

Alvarez said Blum will honor the sponsorship it offered to Mizrachi, despite last week’s incident. Mizrachi, who has survived through Wednesday in the main event, says he has continued to wear the Blum logo uncovered during off-camera cash games at other casinos across the Las Vegas Valley, including multiple properties on The Strip. As of Wednesday, he hadn’t been asked to cover it at the other venues. Yet.

Photo credit: Antonio Abrego photo of Michael Mizrachi courtesy of Mizrachi and PokerNews.

Chris Kudialis's Bio Image

Chris Kudialis

Chris Kudialis is a Las Vegas–based cannabis reporter. He has written articles for the Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Sun, Charlotte Observer, Houston Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, and Brazil's Rio Times, among other metropolitan dailies.

View Chris Kudialis's articles

  • UFCWatcher

    Might wanna ask the wsop why john cynn is advertising crypto currency apps on the espn live stream right now. Blockfolio is obviously crypto. Can’t believe no one caught that but they busted blum. So ridiculous.

  • UFCWatcher

    Should prob ask wsop/Rio/ESPN why John cynn was allowed to wear crypto advertising during the live broadcast last night. Says right in your article that was banned also.

    • Camshaft0422

      I saw that and didn’t think anything of it until I read this….Such a JOKE

  • Bob Polly

    What a joke. Pull that ad money and shame RIO. Unreal.

  • UFCWatcher

    Your comment section, much like your site, is subpar.

    • 360dunk

      The Leafly site is tremendous and often educational. I’ve learned a lot about cannabis from them…..be it terpenes, strain potency, combating ailments, legality in different states, brain receptor info, etc.

      Not sure why you claim it’s sub-par (you chose to not offer any reasons for your empty criticism), but to me, it’s great.

      • Camshaft0422

        Fucking Troll!! sub par my ass, wtf you on here for then?

        • 360dunk

          Before you rant at someone who you agree with (me), you might consider hitting the proper ‘reply’ button. Otherwise, your post makes you look confused and contradictory.

      • UFCWatcher

        They deleted my comment twice, and then let it stand the 3rd time. Also, there are people out there who dispute the accuracy of some information on this site. Whether a particular strain is indica or sativa, the thc content, etc.

  • GetAClueBucko

    Just booked at Rio. I should cancel.

  • agenteightysix

    Las Vegas has been fueled by alcohol for decades. I guess that’s OK.

  • Dirty_Old_Madman

    So, you can’t advertise pot but getting the players drunk on alcohol is totally permissible. Mizrachi go to the alcohol companies and I’d bet they will pay you even more to advertise them, unless this is a religious thing…

    • Camshaft0422

      Nope not at all a religious thing and this is the proff right here from the WSOP spokesman..
      Right in the artical……
      Rio: No Pot, Guns, Cigs, Crypto, or Porn
      World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky said the Rio, operated by casino mega-chain Caesars Entertainment, specifically prohibits advertising for companies in the marijuana, cryptocurrency, firearm k pornography industries, as well as illegal drugs and tobacco products in its rules issued to players prior to the WSOP.
      So all those industries are banned but NOT ALCOHOL!!😡😡😡 Hypocrisy at its finest..

  • 360dunk

    Tony Alamo has been an anti-cannabis jerk all along in Nevada. The underlying reason for his opposition is the more people who smoke weed, the fewer who will get drunk at the tables and thus be less free with their money. Casinos love drunks. As a gambler and a Las Vegas resident, I will not give my business to the Rio……they specifically mention cannabis in their list of banned items. Screw ’em, there are plenty of other options.

    • Camshaft0422

      Absolutely! It’s the same reason when you look into who has donated more money to campaigns against MJ and Recreational Cannabis the Alcohol Industry is always at the top. I know for a fact I will nit have more than a beer if that even if I have medicated. I am not a big drinker anyway but I really am not whwn I am stoned this all stems from the fear of revenue loss and tuff shit they have morw money than they know wtf to do with. It’s hypocrisy at it’s highest. Let’s also not forget good old Big Pharma who has launched a big Campaign Against CBD sales because people are realising the damn truth. Less side effects and lets not forget that its been proven to be the most effective and strongest Anti inflammatory on earth!

  • Anton_Zilwicki

    The Rio is a dump anyway. Find a venue without so much “anti” baggage.

  • Kingrat8878

    I’ll be going to Blum. Great Dispensary by the way.

  • viper643

    Remember the days in a Vegas casino when they had free cigarettes ? After the Feds see the light ; the casinos will have free pre-rolls. _NOT !

  • Camshaft0422

    That’s an absolute bunch of bullshit. They have no issue with promoting alcoholic beverages which they sell to people who walk all around there casinos completely shit housed causing a hell of a lot more problems than anyone who would ever be a little bit stoned. I am absolutely sick to death of the hypocritical bullshit that goes on with the alcohol industry trying to shut down or at least slow down the growth of the marijuana industry. WSOP sgould have told the casino to smoke a fat one and chill the fuck out. I personally have seen people served way past the point of being shit housed and the bartenders don’t give a shit. I have watched these same people leave there casinos and get into motor vechiles and drive away from the property which puts the casino in a very easy position to be sewed over letting someone who was overserved get in a vechile and leave there establishment! This shits hypocritical to the highest degree. Get a fucking clue! More money in 10 years will come from the Cannabis industry than Alcohol and the Alcohol executive’s know this. I can almost guarantee that the policy was pushed on the casino from there alcohol sponsors. Get a clue!