Las Vegas Gambling Think Tank Broadens Global Footprint

October 11, 2021
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As Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs continues to revamp the country’s gambling regulatory framework, a think tank at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas is providing guidance on how to make a successful transition.

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As Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs continues to revamp the country's gambling regulatory framework, a think tank at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is providing guidance on how to make a successful transition.

Japan is another country consulting with UNLV's International Center for Gaming Regulation on the oversight of gambling operations.

The UNLV gaming regulation center is not as active in collaborating with regulators in Europe where the gaming market is more mature, particularly for sports betting and online gambling.

However, regulatory agencies in foreign countries account for about 35 percent of the UNLV think tank's research, and that number is expected to grow.

"Our mission is to help regulatory agencies, foreign or domestic, maintain their unique qualities without losing their relevance in the global gaming community," said Joe Bertolone, a former William Hill executive and regulatory official in Nevada who is the executive director of the UNLV gambling regulation center.

Domestically, Indian gaming tribes are showing more interest in the think tank's research on sports betting as they continue to rapidly expand into the sports wagering market, with around 40 percent of attendees of UNLV executive courses from tribal gaming commissions, according to Bertolone.

The gaming regulation center opened in 2016 as a branch of UNLV's International Gaming Institute, which was founded in October 1993.

The concept of gambling as an industry worthy of academic research originated with William Eadington, an economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. Eadington died in 2013.

Five years after its opening, the UNLV gambling regulation center is still "a work in progress," according to Bertolone.

Using funds included in the state budget, the UNLV gambling regulatory center proposes research projects and then pays selected applicants to do the work.

"Our goal is to deliver the best agnostic, independent and expert-driven education [on gaming] that's out there," he said.

In the future, the UNLV gambling regulation center plans to focus its research on the impact of technology on the gaming industry.

Consequently, the think tank is likely to adopt a hybrid educational approach, combining traditional classroom teaching techniques with virtual instruction methods such as Zoom, which do not require the physical presence of students.

"It's just a much more efficient model for a global business," Bertolone said.

Bertolone estimated that about 4,000 executives from more than 150 jurisdictions around the world have attended the UNLV gaming regulation center's education sessions.

"As the center matures and continues to expand our expert pool, I think that will enable us to bring more and more people together from academia, regulatory bodies and legislatures to form a group of people who really understand the entire gaming ecosystem," Bertolone said.

Becky Harris, a former chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, joined the UNLV gaming regulation center in 2019 as an academic fellow with an emphasis on the study of sports betting.

"I am no longer required to be neutral on gaming issues and am able to express my particular views," Harris said.

Chris Grove, a gambling analyst and member of the UNLV gaming regulation center, said the think tank aims to "explore and articulate best practices for regulation of various forms of gaming."

"Functionally, the [center] also serves as a conduit between industry stakeholders and regulators," Grove said.

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