Over the past decade, Las Vegas resorts have diversified to include five-star restaurants, massive nightclubs and high-end shopping, but gaming will always be the engine that powers our city. It’s an intricate machine, constantly sprouting new regulations and unforeseen issues.
UNLV seeks to address the complexity of today’s casino industry with its new master of laws program, offering a degree in Gaming Law and Regulation. “It makes sense to have a graduate program in gaming in a city that is so well known for gaming and that has such expertise,” says Ngai Pindell, an associate dean of academic affairs at the Boyd School of Law who will be leading the new program.
Currently, UNLV offers more gaming-law classes than any other school in the nation, but such a wide-ranging, ever-changing industry always offers up new facets for examination. “We’ve designed the curriculum to highlight the depth of gaming law and policy that’s needed to effectively practice in that industry,” Pindell says. The new program will offer “classes focusing on online gaming, data privacy, problem-gaming research and treatment, anti-money laundering, sports betting,” plus a legion of other related issues, including employment law, intellectual property law and administrative law.
“It touches on a lot of areas that one might not initially think are gaming-related but that are central to being an effective gaming adviser,” he says.
This year alone, casinos have dealt with lawsuits involving employees charging racial discrimination, headliners seeking compensation for on-the-job injuries, customers who feel they’re not responsible for gambling debts incurred while drunk and marijuana dispensaries infringing on casinos’ copyrights. Then there’s the legal fallout from participating in FBI stings, concerns about the privacy of customer data and, of course, the ongoing battle against gaming taxes.
Given that the Gaming Law and Regulation program—the only gaming master’s degree offered in the nation—is in the Gambling Capital of the World, students will have access to the most knowledgeable and influential figures in what has long been a complex industry. “We hope to have experts from the casino industry and from the regulatory side teach in the program or be frequent guest lectures,” Pindell says. “We’re thinking through creative ways in which our students can engage with the gaming community.”
The program will welcome its first class in fall 2015, and Pindell is confident that as the years pass, graduates will eventually find their own places in the gaming community—and not just on the Strip. “Some grads will work in-house in the casino in [their] legal division; some will end up working in law firms that advise casinos or businesses related to the casino industry,” Pindell says, “Of course, we expect many grads to be regulators around the country and around the world.”