UNLV Assumes the Mantle of Bill Eadington

Great news! UNLV is opening a center to study gaming regulation. The subject is a very personal one for me. When I was promoted to the position of casino manager in 1981, I was totally unprepared. I had no idea what a casino manager did or what it meant to manage a casino. What was there to manage? I looked for a book or a class to help me. There was one book, “Casino Management” by Bill Friedman and one man, Professor William Eadington, offering any courses, seminars or conferences on gaming. The industry has come a long way since then.

Eadington virtually invented casino gaming as an academic field when he joined the faculty of the University of Nevada, Reno. From 1969 until 2013, Bill Eadington helped law makers, regulators, casino operators, bankers, Wall Street investors and casual observers understand the world of commercial gaming and gambling. Bill’s death highlighted the need to continue and expand his work. The sentimental favorite was the school that had housed his institute, UNR. However, the casino industry had outgrown Reno and its university; the University of Nevada in Las Vegas was the obvious and logical choice.

Las Vegas is clearly the center of the casino gaming, its world famous Strip provides models for every other casino built in the world. As a result, the city is the best place to study casinos in real time, a classroom and a laboratory. In March, UNLV announced the creation of a center for studying gaming regulation. Howard Stutz quoted the director of the International Gaming Institute, Bo Bernard, as saying the center would produce “cutting edge” research. The announcement was welcome news for gaming education and for the gaming industry!

Andre Wilsenach spent 14 years leading the Alderney Gaming Commission as the British Crown dependency pioneered Europe’s Internet gaming regulatory process. Before that assignment, Wilsenach was appointed by the Mandela government in his native South Africa to help create a land-based gaming regulatory system. Now, he will bring those experiences into the launch of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3-4-16

International Gaming Institute executive director Bo Bernhard said the goal of the center is to become the primary global source for regulatory research and information, including the first database of scientific findings on regulatory issues and a repository of various regulations, test results, and related data. He also sees the center as producing “cutting-edge” research that benefits the global gaming community. Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature last year allocated $500,000 annually for the operation. Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 3-4-16

Bo Bernard’s “cutting edge” research is sorely needed. Although there have been numerous books written on gaming since 1981, few of them are based on good research. The book “Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition” by Bill Friedman is an exception to that statement. Although Friedman worked without support or funding from any outside source, he took his work very seriously. The book is a classic. Friedman did his research in Las Vegas casinos; he meticulously measured spaces, vertical and horizontal, noise levels and light levels within dozens of micro environments in each of the casinos he studied. His research also tracked the number of players in each of the different micro environments. The conclusions suggest an optimal casino floor arrangement, including ceiling heights. His work should serve as a model for operational research.

The combined gaming industry, including lotteries, racing, Indian gaming and casinos generated approximately $90 billion in gaming revenues in 2016. That is big business; the American Gaming Association estimates that gaming employs 1.7 million people nationally and pays $38 billion in taxes annually. Even though there are more resources available now to fledgling casino managers, there is still much research needed to properly understand, manage, invest, finance and regulate an industry that large. Research into every aspect of the industry is required if the industry is to continue to grow, prosper and contribute the nation’s health. That research when it is done, will provide a guidebook for all of those involved in gaming, including naïve and recently promoted casino managers in the hinterlands.

Professor Eadington published all or most of the papers presented at his conferences and there were dozens of conferences. Eadington was especially interested in the social costs of legalized gambling and published many papers on problem gambling. As a result of his efforts, problem gaming may be the most studied area of the industry. The job is not done, but thanks to Bill, it is ongoing. The new center at UNLV is certain to fill another void, a detailed study of various regulatory and taxation schemes. The center is a major step forward for the gaming industry and a clear indication that UNLV is assuming the mantle of Bill Eadington. UNLV’s efforts are to be celebrated. Bill left big shoes to be filled, but UNLV has demonstrated it is up to the challenge. I am very excited about the progress being made and I am certain that Bill would be very pleased to see the work he began nearly 50 years ago continuing in capable hands.


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