Center for gaming regulators to be created at UNLV Boyd School of Law

A one-of-a-kind center, where gaming regulators worldwide can meet to exchange ideas and discuss emerging issues, will be created at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Boyd School of Law after state lawmakers designated $1 million for the program.

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents still needs to sign off on the International Center for Excellence in Gaming Regulation. The money for the program — $500,000 in each of the next two years — was part of the appropriations bill signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval last week.

Daniel Hamilton, dean of the law school, said the program — a partnership with UNLV’s Harrah College of Hotel Management — is seeking an executive director. Hamilton also said the university will also seek funds from donors for the center.

“We want to become a resource for the gaming industry and for government that will help foster dialogue and create best practices for gaming regulators worldwide,” Hamilton said. “Our goal is for this center to become a public-private partnership.”

State Sen. Mark Lipparelli, R-Las Vegas, a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said the center would bring together regulators from all sides of the gaming industry — commercial casinos, racetrack and riverboat casinos, and American Indian casinos.

The university setting, he said, offered “neutral ground” that would spur discussions on gaming regulations and policy.

Lipparelli said policy discussions often arise during conferences, such as the Global Gaming Expo. But after the convention ends, the talks die down. The center would allow those discussions on important policy matters to continue.

“There really isn’t a concentrated setting for a center like this,” Lipparelli said.

UNLV’s International Gaming Institute has previously provided educational programs for gaming regulators. For example, when Singapore legalized casinos, gaming regulators from the island nation came to UNLV for a series of classes.

Bo Bernhard, executive director of the Institute — which is part of the hotel school — said the new center will allow for regulatory educational programs to expand on a larger scale.

“Teaching and research are two things universities do well,” Bernhard said. “The research piece is an important part of the center.”

Hamilton said he envisions the center will have four goals and outcomes: thought leadership that will foster a think tank environment on gaming regulation policy; education to develop best practices and create model regulatory standards; a data information repository to main a site for storing regulatory research and documents; and a communications hub that would connect regulators, gaming attorneys, and the gaming industry.

“The center is designed to be a producer of cutting-edge academic research on the issues and opportunities facing gaming and a way to archive and collect the best gaming research,” Hamilton said. “Right, there isn’t this type of academic resource.”

Hamilton said the program will become “a training ground for regulators new to the industry and for experienced regulators looking to develop best practices.”

Boyd Law School offers several courses in gaming law and recently implemented a master’s program for gaming law and regulation. The first class will begin in the fall. The law school also hosts the annual Bob Faiss Lecture Series, which is named for the late gaming attorney.

Hamilton said the expansion of gaming worldwide, especially in the U.S., offers UNLV the opportunity to become the center of gaming regulatory research.

“The governor’s economic blueprint is for Nevada to become the intellectual capitol for gaming,” Hamilton said. “That’s something we are pursuing.”

The American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s Washington, D.C.-based trade organization, has long advocated uniformity in gaming regulations in the U.S. AGA President Geoff Freeman said the center could “help streamline a maddeningly duplicative and burdensome regulatory process.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find @howardstutz on Twitter.

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