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3 October 2014
By Mark Pilarski
Dear Mark: Any time you go to a casino, there always seems to be a security guard at the door to greet you. My question is, are there any restrictions about taking firearms into a casino? We hope there are. Sally F.
In Belle Starr’s Cowboy Wisdom (1955), “A pair of six-shooters beats a pair of sixes” might make for good prose, but luckily, today’s casinos are not the gambling halls of the 19th-century American West. I am with you, Sally. As one who has brought the tidings of a seven-card 21 to many an inebriated player, the last thing I want to see is a holstered Glock 9mm while I’m pitching cardboard.
In reality, there are far too many nuances in the laws regarding firearms between states; the best I can do is “wing it” here. No matter what I write, some gun enthusiast that knows far more about firearms than I do will challenge my answer. My following reply is open to scrutiny, so readers, fire away! (But not with your guns blazing!)
Let’s take Nevada as an example. Although the state has a liberal open carry policy, you cannot open carry in a casino or establishment that has gambling. Likewise, most casinos, but not all, do not allow concealed weapons. Even if you do have a concealed weapons permit, you can still be refused entry because it is a private business. Under most state's trespassing laws, private property owners have the right to prohibit a person from carrying firearms – concealed or not, regardless of whether the person has a concealed weapons permit – onto their property.
Visually over the past three decades, I have never seen anyone openly carry a firearm into a casino. To the contrary, I have seen signage, specifically stating that firearms, both concealed and open carry, are not permitted.
If security notices that you are carrying, you more than likely will be asked to leave the premises. If you refuse to comply, you are inviting trespassing charges.
As for tribal casinos, any time you go onto a reservation, you have effectively entered onto sovereign land and are subject to tribal law. Even if you are carrying a firearm with a permit or license that is valid in the state where the reservation is located, that permit/license might not be valid on the reservation.
The law on this subject, Sally, is complicated at best. The answer depends upon each tribe’s treaty with the state, federal laws that govern that tribe, and specific laws within each tribe. One lawyer I spoke with on this matter categorically stated that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act prohibits firearms in all casinos on tribal property. Another attorney was firm in his conviction that no federal regulation prohibiting firearms in Indian casinos exists. He believes the federal government left this decision to the individual tribes or states. Are you confused yet, Sally?
The general rule here, Sally, is that there is no general rule. There is simply no way I can make a blanket statement about carrying a firearm into a casino. Personally I believe that most casinos ban the carrying of firearms as a matter of policy, with signs prohibiting firearms posted at all entrances of the casino. Those who enter with a firearm will most likely cross the Rubicon of criminal trespass, and be treated accordingly.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “When you go to a casino, always carry a concealed weapon... your brain.” – VP Pappy
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