Detroit dispensary introduces 'cannabis casino' concept where customers gamble only with reward points

A pioneering cannabis dispensary in Detroit has unveiled a unique “cannabis casino” concept, offering customers the chance to win prizes by playing games such as blackjack, craps, roulette, and slot machines. The Reef, located on Eight Mile Road, is among the first to introduce this innovative idea.

Tim Campbell, a spokesperson for The Reef, claims that no other dispensary in the country has attempted this concept. The idea originated from a partnership with Jason Kouza of Dort Hwy Dispo, a Flint-area dispensary that developed the games featured at The Reef. “As far as I know, nobody in the country has done it,” he said, as reported by the Metro Times. 

The Reef decided to adopt the cannabis casino concept while waiting for adult-use cannabis licenses in Detroit. Although the city was one of the first in Michigan to permit medical cannabis dispensaries after the passing of Proposal 1 in 2008, it lagged behind in allowing recreational dispensaries, which were approved by Michigan voters in 2018.

Legal disputes delayed the implementation of Detroit’s social equity plan for cannabis, which aimed to benefit Black Detroiters disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

“I’ve said this a lot of times, Detroit really built the bus for recreational — and then it missed the bus,” Campbell said, according to the above-mentioned media. “There are so many other cities that opened up for years before they could do it.”

A modified version of the city ordinance was finally passed in 2022, and Detroit’s first adult-use dispensaries opened earlier this year. The Reef reopened for adult-use sales earlier this month, taking the opportunity to revamp its facilities.

Campbell explained that the cannabis casino concept did not require any additional legal considerations, as customers do not gamble with real money. Instead, they can win cannabis products or store credit. However, following the publication of this story, a spokesperson for the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency stated that the concept was under investigation.

Customers earn reward points based on their purchases, which can be used to play games and win prizes. They can also accumulate points and use them all at once for an extended gaming session.

“We structured how many reward points you get at a ratio of how much you purchase,” Campbell commented. “For instance, there are days that you come in and you spend $25, you get either a ball to go down the Plinko machine or a pull on the roulette wheel, [or] a roll at the craps table. So you win prizes, and you can win pretty much no matter what. And if you spend $50, you get two of these chances; for $75, you get three; and so on and so forth. Or you can let your points accrue and sit there and get hot on a game of blackjack or get hot on a game of craps.”

The Reef has also launched its own version of the McDonald’s “Monopoly” game promotion, offering customers the chance to win prizes such as $100,000 cash, free cannabis for life, a Caribbean trip for two, or a home cannabis-growing kit. Other promotions include pulling tabs and scratch-off cards.

Campbell attributed the cannabis casino idea to the falling price of cannabis in Michigan, emphasizing the need to differentiate The Reef from competitors by offering a unique and enjoyable customer experience.

With adult use now permitted in Detroit, The Reef plans to expand its operations. The company intends to introduce the cannabis casino concept to its Muskegon Heights location and open additional dispensaries in Detroit and Hamtramck. The Reef also plans to hire 20 to 30 new employees in the coming months.


Business Asia
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