Center for Gaming Research
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Occasional Paper Series

Occasional Paper Series

In 2010, the Center for Gaming Research launched an Occasional Paper Series that publishes brief studies of gambling and casinos with a policy and public-interest orientation.

These papers are generally between three and six-thousand words, written with the intent of informing the public discussion of gambling and casinos. Topics include gaming history, casino management, and studies in sociology, economics, and political science related to gambling.

The opinons expressed in these papers are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of UNLV, its staff, faculty, or adminstration.

Authors include faculty affiliated with the Center for Gaming Research, particularly Gaming Research Fellows. As part of their residency, fellows complete a paper for the series.

You can see a list of Occasional Papers in DigitalScholarship@UNLV.

Paper 45: October 2018
Kim Manh. "Luck of the Land: The Growth of Tribal Gaming."
In this paper, I examine the factors that influence tribal decisions regarding gaming policy.  First, I look into past accounts of the causes of gaming diffusion and attempt to overcome some of their shortcomings.  In particular, previous research has neglected the limited role of federalism, geography, and the impact of gaming during undetermined legality.  By collecting data from gaming expansion on tribal lands in California, I provide increased nuance to the story of gaming diffusion.  I argue that proximity to major population centers will have the strongest impact on the success of tribal casinos.  Only when there is an appropriately large population near proposed gaming sights can they maintain larger facilities.  Using data from California’s Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, I find surrounding population to be the only impactful factor in predicting donor status contradicting many previous conclusions in the extant literature.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 44: September 2018
Kelli Wood. "A History of Play in Print: Board Games from the Renaissance to Milton Bradley."

This essay considers how a historical legacy of printed games dating back to the sixteenth century in Italy laid the foundation for modern board games like those produced by Milton Bradley. The technology of print and the broad publics it reached enabled the spread of a common gaming culture- one built upon shared visual structures in game boards. Modern board games, of course, relied upon similar rules and replicated the ludic functions of their Renaissance progenitors. But perhaps more importantly, they built upon and perpetuated entrenched narratives about how fortune and morality contributed to lived experiences, presenting their viewers and players with a familiar printed imagination of the game of life.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 43: August 2018
Colleen O'Neill. "Civil Rights or Sovereignty Rights? Understanding the Historical Conflict between Native Americans and Organized Labor"

Unions have played important roles in Indigenous struggles in Latin America and in campaigns that fueled civil rights movements in the United States, including efforts to organize agricultural, hospitality, and health care workers. But, Native Americans have had less of a connection with organized labor. Indeed, in the current climate, labor and tribes seemed to be locked in an adversarial relationship. Tribal leaders see unions as a threat to their sovereignty. Unions, such as Unite-HERE and the United Food and Commercial Workers, clearly see their rights to organize as part of a larger civil rights struggle. Examining struggles between tribal governments and unions (that largely represent workers of color) reveals how distinct historical experience produced divergent types of political strategies and notions of citizenship.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 42: July 2018
Massimo Leone. "Christianity and Gambling: An Introduction"

Religions hold complex relations with games and, in particular, with gambling. The article focuses on Christianity. On the one hand, the history of this religion shows a tendency to condemn games as source of distraction from spiritual rectitude and to stigmatize gambling, above all, as opening to metaphysical randomness and, as a consequence, as challenge to the idea of divine omniscience. On the other hand, Christianity has also sought to reinterpret games, and even gambling, as possible occasion for moral improvement and as useful distraction from the hardship of monastic life. A theological perspective that reaches its peak in Thomas Aquinas, but has its roots in Aristotle’s evaluation of playfulness, tends to suggest the need for eutropelia, meant as the citizens’ virtue to appropriately have fun.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 41: June 2018
Cynthia Van Gilder and Dana Herrera. "Ninth Island, Las Vegas: Hawaiian Gaming Tourism and The California Hotel"

ABSTRACT: Many people do not realize that Las Vegas, Nevada is home to a unique niche tourism: it is overwhelmingly the vacation destination of choice for residents of the state of Hawai’i, even affectionately termed the “Ninth Island.” Many credit the strong Hawaiian interest in Las Vegas to the fact that there is no legal gaming in the state of Hawai’i, however, data indicates that it is not just the opportunity to gamble that bring Hawaiian tourists here, but also the specifc amenities and experience offered at one particular hotel and casino, The California Hotel. Nicknamed “The Cal,” this establishment is overwhelmingly the Hawaiian choice for sleeping, gambling, eating, and socializing. Although the exterior of The Cal still reflects its original identity as a California-themed establishment, the interior reveals its forty-year history of transformation into a Hawaiian homeaway-from-home, with island themed décor, banquet rooms labeled in the Hawaiian language, and multiple eateries offering Hawaiian favorites. This paper examines the “tourist imaginary” created at The Cal by the Boyd Gaming Corporation, and suggests that it has become a “lovemark,” that is now part of the Hawaiian pan-ethnicity known as being a local, or kama’aina.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 40: July 2017
Mark Johnson. "Comparing the Professionalization of Pro Gamblers and Pro Video Game Players"

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the lives and practices of professional gamblers and professional video game players. Although both sets of individuals earn their incomes through games and other broadly “playful” practices, the work identifies four significant differences in their careers and what the “everyday” of these individuals looks like. Firstly, in terms of the nature of “skill” required to progress in these careers, and how these players reflect on and understand their own skill; secondly, the role of money and “money management” in their lives, and the different rhythms of financial gain, and potentially loss; thirdly, the observation that whereas almost all professional video game players pursue a single game to a high level, professional gamblers generally pursue many games, a reflection of the different economic superstructures surrounding the two practices; and fourthly, differences in working hours and freedom, where professional gamblers live a life of flexibility and variation, whilst those of eSports players are regimented and highly structured. It shows that although both are professional game-players, there is wide divergence in this experiences, caused by the entanglement of external factors such as skill, luck, risk, legality, and technology, in this practices. The paper concludes by recommending future research into these elements and how they intersect with gameplay, in order to future understand the lives of these most skilled game-playing individuals.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 39: February 2017
Paul Franke: "Of the Rat Pack, Ashtrays, Cocktail Napkins, and Grateful Losers: The Making of the Las Vegas Experience as a Historical Process in the 20th Century"

ABSTRACT: This paper explores how Las Vegas casino executives have successfully produced a unique gaming experience. From the 1950s onwards they were able to use architecture, entertainment and business practices to link games of chance with a specific consumption experience for players. It will examine what sets the Las Vegas consumption experience apart from other gaming locations, what it consisted of, and how it was produced by the casinos. It also investigates how people between the 1950s and 1980s perceived and consumed the Las Vegas experience. Drawing from these observations the paper argues that the special of Las Vegas in gaming history stems from the fact that it represented a unique way how games were experienced and played.

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Paper 38: December 2016
Danielle Seid. "Forgotten Femmes, Forgotten War: The Kim Sisters’ Disappearance from American Screen and Scene"

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the performance history of the Korean girl group The Kim Sisters, once highly visible racial icons, within the social and cultural context of 1960s Cold War America and popular entertainment culture. The Kim Sisters’ disappearance from American screen and scene raises questions about public memory of the Korean War, the status of Asian American performers in popular entertainment industries, and shifting attitudes about race, gender, and sexuality in the 1960s. Focusing in particular on the production and reception of their feminine beauty on stage and television, this paper highlights the Kims’ early years in the newly-formed Republic of Korea, as well as their success in the Las Vegas showroom scene and on television musical variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Dinah Shore Chevy Show.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 37: November 2016
Laurie Arnold. "Contextualizing Indian Gaming for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission"

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses the Indian Gaming Subcommittee of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC). It illustrates the efforts tribes made to educate members of the NGISC about the positive impacts of Indian casino gaming, and it also highlights the resistance tribes faced from the NGISC.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 36: October 2016
Celeste Chamblerland. "An Enchanting Witchcraft: Masculinity, Melancholy, and the Pathology of Gaming in Early Modern London"

ABSTRACT: In seeking to illuminate the ways in which inchoate models of addiction emerged alongside the unprecedented popularity of gambling in Stuart London, this paper will explore the intersections between a rudimentary pathology of addiction and transformations in the epistemology of reason, the passions, and humoral psychology in the seventeenth century. By exploring the connections between endogenous and exogenous categories of mental illness, this study will examine the ways in which medicine, social expectations, and religion intersected in the seventeenth century alongside the historical relationship between evolving concepts of mental illness, stigma and the politics of blame and responsibility in the early modern period.

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Paper 35: June 2016
Oliver Lovat. "Elvis Who? Understanding, Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Las Vegas Customers"

ABSTRACT: Las Vegas is in the middle of a period of generational transformation. The visitor profile has changed greatly since 2007, however the behavior and attitudes of this new visitor are very different that of previous generations of visitors. By undertaking a survey of this group we identify several key trends that make this group unique. Not only does this new visitor come to Las Vegas more frequently, follow Las Vegas when they are not in the city, they demonstrate planning and spending patterns that are unlike any other group. This paper analyses the next generation of visitor, and suggests methods to capture loyalty and market share.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 34: May 2016
Scott Boylan. "Nevada Gaming Revenue: A Comparative Analysis of Slots and Tables"

ABSTRACT: Throughout much of its existence, Nevada’s gambling industry has been dominated by table games. Historically, slot machines were of secondary importance because they did not generate much revenue and were costly to maintain and operate. Starting in the late 1970s, a series of technological milestones improved the form and function of slot machines, and fueled replacement cycles on casino floors. Nevada gaming revenue data provides evidence of the economic effects of these improvements. Since 1984, slots generally have produced larger revenue gains than tables, although those gains are distributed neither uniformly over time nor across gaming markets. In addition, slots have achieved most of those revenue gains through superior unit growth, and to a lesser extent, through improvements in efficiency. Overall, the evidence suggests technological advances have broadened the appeal of slots relative to table games. However, there is comparatively little evidence of wholesale increases in the revenue-generating ability or usage of the devices on a per unit basis.

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Paper 33: February 2016
Jonathan D. Cohen. "State Lotteries and the New American Dream"

ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes state lotteries in the economic and cultural context of the late twentieth century. As
access to traditional meritocratic advancement declined, many Americans perceived lotteries as new means of attaining
increasingly elusive upward mobility. Their turn to lotteries was facilitated by grassroots coalitions as well as lottery
advertisers who claimed lotteries as effective means of making money. The relationship of lotteries and social mobility
reveals the full implications of lottery playing in the United States and the reasons this form of gambling has assumed
new importance as providing access to the American Dream.

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 32: May 2015
John Hunt. "Betting on the Papal Election in Sixteenth-Century Rome"

ABSTRACT: Wagering on the papal election was a popular pastime among all levels of society in sixteenth-century Rome. Brokers and their clients kept well-informed of the election taking place within the closed doors of the conclave. Consequently, wagering on the election proved to be a source of disruption since—intentionally or not—it begat rumors of a pope’s election and spurred brokers to use illicit means of discovering the secrets of the conclave. The papacy thus initiated a campaign against the practice during the last twenty-five years of the sixteenth century. This campaign, partially inspired by the Counter-Reformation’s impulse to reform popular mores, proved successful as wagering on papal elections disappeared after 1592.

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Paper 31: February 2015
Catherine Borg. "Scouted: An Inadvertent Archive from the Search for a Cinematic Vegas"

ABSTRACT: This paper highlights the transformation of materials within the Mancuso Collection from utilitarian location scouting materials in the service of a film to historical record of the Vegas valley in 1994-95. Destined for disposal, these displaced artifacts are also an important record and reminder of the hidden labor and creative output of the many people who contribute to cultural products.

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Paper 30: October 2014
Stefan Al: "Casino Architecture Wars: A History of How Las Vegas Developers Compete with Architectural Design"

ABSTRACT: This paper explores how Las Vegas casino devel opers have competed with architectural design. Throughout history, they emphasized different elements of the casino complex. This paper will examine three of the most heated wars that occurred between casinos over such elements: the swimming pool wars of the 1950s, the sign wars of the 1960s, and the porte cochère wars of the 1970s. This paper argues how, in the face of competition, each of these elements evolved into truly unique forms that differed greatly from other places. In its relentless pursuit to attract visitors, Las Vegas lay on the forefront of architectural experimentation.

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Paper 29: September 2014
Michelle Minton: "The Original Intent of the Wire Act and Its Implications for State-based Legalization of Internet Gambling"

ABSTRACT: Recognizing the growing threat of organized crime, then U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sought to get the “bankrollers and kingpins” by introducing the Federal Wire Act in 1961, which sought to target the mob’s most profitable racket—bookkeeping on horseracing and sports gambling by prohibiting such gambling on the nation’s communication system at the time (telephone and telegraph). More than 30 years later members of Congress sought to use the Wire Act to stop the rise of casino-style gambling on the Internet. However, the scope of the Wire Act has been disputed among lawmakers, courts, and federal agencies. In 2011 the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice announced its belief that the Act applied only to sports gambling, dispelling ambiguity and opening the door for states to legalize intrastate non-sport online gambling, such as lottery ticket sales and Internet poker. This paper examines the historical context in which Congress enacted the 1961 Wire Act and the interpretation of the Act over five decades and its implications for present-day regulatory proposals.

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Paper 28: August 2014
Brian Beaton: "Can Gaming Be Used in the Nonprofit Sector for More than Fundraising?"

ABSTRACT: This paper explores new, game-based volunteering platforms in the sciences and discusses their viability for nonprofit organizations, which have long used gaming for fundraising but not typically in other aspects of their operations. The paper unfolds in two parts. Examples of game-based volunteering platforms in the sciences are examined in Part 1, and their broader significance discussed in regard to the history of science and the history of gaming. The games in question enable volunteers to work remotely with scientific research data and assist with data processing and information management. In Part 2, the paper outlines information management challenges in the nonprofit domain and articulates possible design modifications to the gamebased platforms being developed in the sciences that would make them potentially workable for nonprofits. The modifications proposed, informed by the idea of “context-rich” design, draw inspiration from research into player habits and preferences within existing nonprofit gaming culture, with a focus on bingo, a highly popular form of NPO gaming that normally involves the analysis of individual and clustered number tables.

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Paper 27: July 2014
Robert MIller. "The Construction of Spatial Imaginaries: Luxury, Spectacle, Cosmopolitanism, and the Formation of the Casino-Resort"

ABSTRACT: This paper examines Monte Carlo in the late-nineteenth century and Las Vegas in the mid-twentieth century, and explores how the cities forged specific identities centered upon their casino-resort industries. Civic planners, entrepreneurs, and tourists contributed to the formation of a spatial imaginary (the conception of a place, laden with symbols and infused with meaning designed to evoke certain feelings or experiences, which is also mediated and re-mediated through the imagination) in these gambling centers. Casino-resorts came to dominate the economies of these cities and casino-concessionaires, business bureaus, and elites consistently emphasized the luxuriousness, spectacle, and cosmopolitanism of their casino-resort towns. This paper argues that the constant emphasis on luxury, spectacle, and cosmopolitanism allowed these casino-resort towns to appeal to a wide-ranging clientele and to remain commercially viable over time. This comparative study also briefly examines how other tourist-resort centers, from Dubai to Rio de Janeiro and Bangkok to Macau, have sought to emulate the successful promotional model set forth by Monte Carlo and Las Vegas.

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Paper 26: June 2014
David T. Courtwright, "Learning from Las Vegas: Gambling, Technology, Capitalism, and Addiction"

ABSTRACT: Gambling has always led to addictive behavior in some individuals. However, the number and types of addicted gamblers have changed over time and in response to specific gambling environments. Recent work by historians, journalists, and anthropologists, reviewed in this paper, suggests that the situation worsened during the modern era, and that it has become worse still during the last half century. Technological, organizational, and marketing innovations have “weaponized” gambling, increasing both the likelihood that people will gamble and that they will gamble compulsively—a phenomenon with parallels to several other consumer products, including processed food, digitized games, and psychoactive drugs.

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Paper 25: May 2014
Diana Tracy Cohen, "Family-Friendly Las Vegas: An Analysis of Time and Space"

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the rise and fall of the “family-friendly” Las Vegas marketing era. Through analysis of casino advertisements, internal and external building infrastructure, and qualitative in-depth interviews with industry insiders, this work investigates the city’s reinvention of the early 1990s. Key factors that set the stage for the emergence of targeted family marketing are identified, addressing why this advertising approach ultimately did not sustain. Unique marketing case studies are identified throughout.

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Paper 24: April 2014
Michelle Robinson. "Billy Graham Comes to Las Vegas: Faith at Work on the Strip"

ABSTRACT: An exploration of Billy Graham’s 1978 Christian Crusade in Las Vegas, this paper argues that the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA) developed distinctly Vegas-styled evangelical tactics to address challenges posed by the city’s fragile religious infrastructure and competing attractions on the Las Vegas Strip. To organize a spectacular and successful ecumenical event that would garner local and national attention, BGEA simultaneously leveraged popular notions of Vegas as “Sin City” while recruiting Christian evangelicals from beyond the city proper to temporarily transform the religious ecology of the Strip.

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Paper 23: October 2013
Davor Jedlicka. "Gaming Opportunities, Attractions, and Monorail Ridership in Las Vegas"

ABSTRACT: The history of Las Vegas monorail is presented in three stages: ideas, development and operations. The decline of ridership on the Las Vegas monorail is explained based on this history. The gravitational theory of people movement is used to propose overcoming the inertia to ride among the resorts. The gravitational theory suggests that monorail could contribute to the “Las Vegas Experience” as a force in attracting visitors from around the world. An increase in inter resort visitation rates via the monorail is likely to increase the overall gaming revenues and prevent the end of monorail operations.

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Paper 22: June 2013
David J. Hart. "Shipwreck with Speculator: Early Modern Representations of Risk and Gambling"

ABSTRACT: Charles Cotton’s Compleat Gamester, one of the best known manuals accompanying a virtual pandemic of gambling fever across early modern Europe, likens gaming to shipwreck since there are “but few Casts at Dice betwixt a rich man and a beggar,” “but few inches between [living] and drowning.” This conjunction of shipwreck and gaming recurs in early modern literature and constitutes a rhetorical topos in the sense of philosopher Hans Blumenberg. I examine several instances of this conjunction (e.g. in Cardano’s autobiography, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, and Joseph de la Vega’s Confusion de Confusiones) and suggest that the conjunction can be understood according to Ian Hacking’s thesis on the contemporaneous development of probability theory.

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Paper 21: April 2013
Stephen Andrade. "Visual Metaphor in Games of Chance: What You See is What You Play"

ABSTRACT: Visual images have been a key element in the development of wager-based games. The legacy of visual metaphor in gaming can be traced through paper ephemera such as playing cards and lottery tickets. Both paper and printing technology ushered the age of wide spread playing opportunities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Modern play behaviors have given way to Postmodern gaming norms in digital space. The digital age has presented a new set of challenges for gaming architecture in wager-based play. Action research in prototyping games is beginning to reveal a new and different set of game characteristics.

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Paper 20: August 2012
Christopher Wetzel. "Moral Markets and the Problematic Proprietor: How Neoliberal Values Shape Lottery Debates in Nevada"

ABSTRACT: All but seven states have legalized lotteries since New Hampshire ushered in the modern lottery era in 1964. Although casino gaming has been permitted since 1931, Nevada has rejected multiple legislative proposals amend the State Constitution and create a state-run lottery. This paper theorizes the lottery’s absence in Nevada, focusing in particular on the role of the state. Lotteries are distinct from other forms of gaming because states act simultaneously as the operation’s regulator and proprietor. In this case, Nevada’s lottery legalization debates over the last half century reflect the profound moral valence of markets. The state as a potential gaming proprietor is framed as a problematic actor that will distort the gaming market, specifically by competing unfairly at the expense of casino operators. Keywords: Nevada, legalization, state, casinos, neoliberalism

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Paper 19: July 2012
Oliver Lovat. "Pyramids to Players Clubs: The Battle for Competitive Advantage in Las Vegas"

ABSTRACT: The evolution of the Las Vegas casinos from owner operator to the institutionally financed and corporately managed casino-resort has been the predominant feature of the evolution of the US Gaming market in the past 30 years. This paper examines the strategic frameworks used by Las Vegas casino resorts and identifies the drivers for competitive advantage moving forward. Keywords: strategy, marketing, casinos, gaming, competitive advantage

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Paper 18: June 2012
Jessalynn Strauss. "From the Last Frontier to the New Cosmopolitan A History of Casino Public Relations in Las Vegas"

ABSTRACT: This research chronicles the history of public relations by the gaming industry in Las Vegas. Reflecting larger trends in the field, public relations efforts by the casinos and hotels in this popular tourist destination have used a variety of communication tactics over time to promote themselves to potential Las Vegas tourists. Based on archival materials from over 30 casinos and gaming corporations, this paper identifies four ways in which public relations is practiced in the gaming industry and four macro-level trends in the evolution of casino public relations in Las Vegas.

Keywords: public relations, casinos, Las Vegas, communication, marketing

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Paper 17: May 2012
Dean Macomber. "The Fiscal Forensics of the Las Vegas Strip: Lessons from the Financial Crisis"

ABSTRACT: Hitting with the force of a 100-year storm, the first two years of the financial crisis caused a $5.2 billion swing from profitability to loss for the top 22 performing Las Vegas Strip properties between peak fiscal year 2007 and 2009. By fiscal year 2011 visitor count had almost climbed back to peak levels but the aggregate loss is still stubbornly high at $ -1.6 billion. Other signs of recovery trickle in but are sporadic and volatile. This article is an attempt to disaggregate the variance and look at where Las Vegas has been, where it is now and how it got there to learn from this trying period and help manage the future.

Keywords: Las Vegas, financial crisis, profitability, analysis, recovery.

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Paper 16: April 2012
Lynn Gidluck. "Halos, Alibis and Community Development: A Cross National Comparison of How Governments Spend Revenue from Gambling"

ABSTRACT: This paper provides a cross-national comparison of how governments around the world distribute revenues from state-directed gambling and how these choices have been justified by proponents and vilified by critics. Case studies where governments have popularized gambling expansion by “earmarking” revenues for particular good causes and where the state has collaborated with the voluntary sector to deliver programs from this revenue stream are examined. Lessons learned from challenges of various approaches are considered.

Keywords: lotteries, gambling, granting programs, comparative public policy

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Paper 15: March 2012

Cristina Turdean. “Computerizing Chance: The Digitization of the Slot Machine (1960-1984)”

ABSTRACT: The digital slot machine entered the gambling floor in the mid-1970s and, within a decade, it became gamblers’ favorite and the main contributor to casinos’ gross revenue. This paper traces the main developments of this transition, particularly the role of the inventors, entrepreneurs, and the business context that made it possible. Decisively shaped by the culture of the casino floor and advancements in computer technology, the emergence of the microprocessor slot machine involved the gradual replacement of mechanical parts with digital components and created new opportunities for casino managers. Keywords: Slot technology, techno-politics, virtualization, casino gaming, Las Vegas

Keywords: Slot technology, techno-politics, virtualization, casino gaming, Las Vegas

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Paper 14: February 2012

Kah-Wee Lee. "Containment and Virtualization: Slot Technology and the Remaking of the Casino Industry."

ABSTRACT: This paper examines how the casino industry was transformed by slot technology between 1950 and 1990. The criminalization of slot machines in the 1950s led to a massive evacuation of slot machines into Las Vegas casinos. In this concentrated environment, slot technology revealed to casino operators an automated surveillance technology that could disassemble the player into streams of virtual data, not through any overt means, but through the very activity of play itself. Slot managers and gaming technologists found themselves empowered professionally as they experimented with ways to transform data into profits. From the 1970s to the 90s, this technological development effectively linked up every economic activity in various casinos across the US, creating a virtual network that defeated the geographical injunctions designed to segregate gambling from other spheres of life.

Keywords: Slot technology, techno-politics, virtualization, casino gaming, Las Vegas

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Paper 13: January 2012

Darryl A. Smith. "Souls/Soles of Signs: Tell Totems and the Sphinx Wager."

ABSTRACT: This paper develops a philosophy of play through an analysis of the foot wager of the Sphinx. Applying a construction of the cosmology of Plato along with a Socratic etymology of her riddle’s answer, it provides a reading of Sphingian contestation consistent with contemporary practices of deception found in modern games like poker. I argue that such deception is constitutive of the excessive illumination of signaling tells in games and that such excess, in turn, is indicative in allied political contexts of a covetous and acquisitive obsession with light. This theory makes use also of Ralph Ellison’s refiguring of Oedipal play as a theory of tyranny and serves as a riposte to the psychoanalytic idea of the Oedipus complex.

Keywords:  tells, true names, Sphinx, Oedipus, philosophy of play 

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Paper 12: November 2011

Glenn Light, Karl Rutledge, and Quinton Singleton. “Betting on the U.S. Market: A Discussion of the Legality of Sports Gaming Businesses.”

ABSTRACT: Over time, the US sports gaming industry has progressed dramatically beyond what the US anti-gaming law drafters envisioned. The result is a system of mostly antiquated laws controlling modern industry causing confusion across the board. This discussion, therefore, intends to shed light on the US sports gaming legal framework, including analysis of the preeminent US laws that regulate the sports gaming industry and a brief review of various sports gaming businesses that fall within the US legal rubric.

Keywords:  sports betting, gaming, Internet gaming

Originally published in the Thunderbird International Business Review, © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Paper 11: October 2011

Robert D. Faiss and Gregory R. Gemignani. "Nevada Gaming Licensing: Qualifications, Standards, and Procedures."

ABSTRACT: The process of acquiring a Nevada gaming license is long and consists of several procedures. Although the process is time-consuming, it is far from Byzantine or obscure; each step, as defined by statute and precedent, flows logically from the one before. This paper provides an overview of licensing process in Nevada, with additional information on the reasoning behind several of the procedures involved.

Keywords:  Nevada, gaming, regulation, casino, licensing

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Paper 10: September 2011

Robert D. Faiss and Gregory R. Gemignani. “Nevada Gaming Statutes: Their Evolution and History”

ABSTRACT: Throughout the past eighty years, Nevada gaming has changed considerably. Nevada’s gaming laws have both reflected and influenced that change. At every step of the way, regulatory changes paved the way for the growth and evolution of Nevada’s gaming industry into one of the world’s largest and best regulated.

Keywords:  Nevada, gaming, regulation, casino

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Paper 09: April 2011

Rex J. Rowley. “Where Locals Play: Neighborhood Casino Landscapes in Las Vegas”

ABSTRACT: Neighborhood casinos—gaming properties that target a primarily local market—are an influential feature on the Las Vegas cultural landscape.  Such institutions reveal a number of geographical patterns that have important implications in gaming and place studies.  The distinguishing characteristics of neighborhood casinos underscore the importance of proximity to a market, a focus that is evident in their advertising strategies.  Additionally, the prominence of such casino-resorts within their respective neighborhoods makes them important symbols and indicators of the character of the surrounding community.  These unique institutions teach lessons that can potentially be extrapolated to other gaming markets around the country.

Keywords: gambling, gaming, market proximity, cultural landscape, symbolic landscape

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Paper 08: December 2010

Nicholas Tosney. "Gaming in Britain and America: Some Historical Comparisons"

Abstract: This paper compares the development of gambling in Britain during the late 17th and 18th centuries with the emergence of gambling in Nevada during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawing on the existence of similar themes and ideas in different contexts, the author demonstrates several benefits of comparative studies of gambling. Focusing principally on gambling games played with cards and dice, this paper begins by examining approaches to taxing gaming before moving on to consider regulatory strategies. 

Keywords: gambling, gaming, Nevada, Great Britain

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Paper 07: September 2010

Fred Krauss. “Taking the Points: The Socialization Process of a Sports Book Regular,” Occasional Paper Series 7.  Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Patrons of a casino sports book use the environment for much more than the instrumental task of sports betting.  It is also a place to congregate with other like-minded patrons and through this process complex interactional dynamics develop over time.  The social world of the sports book emerges in a designated space for the betting act where patrons meet, interact, and establish a culture to which they adhere. 

Keywords: Las Vegas, sports betting, socialization, gambling, sports book

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Paper 06: August 2010

Laura Cook Kenna. “The Promise of Gangster Glamour: Sinatra, Vegas, and Alluring, Ethnicized, Excess," Occasional Paper Series 6. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Las Vegas has been linked with Frank Sinatra since the 1950s. The highly‐publicized performances of the Rat Pack (consisting of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford) at the Sands crystallized the image of Las Vegas as a place that mingled economic mobility with excess. This excess was often associated with ethnicity and frequently linked to crime. It was, however, the excess that made Las Vegas and Sinatra glamorous to many audiences.

Keywords: Las Vegas, Rat Pack, Gangsters, American Ethnicity

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Paper 05: July 2010

Theodor Gordon. “Nation, Corporation, or Family? Tribal Casino Employment and the Transformation of Tribes,” Occasional Paper Series 5. Las Vegas: Center
for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Since its modest beginnings in the early 1980s, tribal gaming rapidly developed into a $25 billion industry that generates over a quarter million jobs. However, the increasing employment of non‐Indians in tribal casinos prompts new cultural and political challenges. This paper analyzes tribal and commercial casino trade publications in order to demonstrate how tribal casino mployee relations play a significant role in transforming public policy and perceptions of tribal government in the United States.

Keywords: gaming, tribal sovereignty, labor relations, cultural relations

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Paper 04: June 2010

Pascale Nedelec. “Urban Dynamics in the Las Vegas Valley: Neighborhood Casinos and Sprawl,” Occasional Paper Series 4. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Las Vegas is well known for its urban sprawl.   While the casino industry has played an obvious role in the development of Las Vegas, no systematic study has evaluated the exact nature of urban growth and the rise of neighborhood casinos.   This paper argues that neighborhood casinos, contrary to tourist-oriented casinos, are not urban forces that drive the growth of an urban area but reinforce the status quo of residential developments.  Neighborhood casinos have nevertheless become a major asset in the economic and social building of residential developments and community life.

Keywords:  locals/neighborhood casinos, urban dynamics, Las Vegas

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 03: May 2010

Theodore Whiting. “The History of Baccarat,” Occasional Paper Series 3. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: The true origins of modern Baccarat are probably lost to history.  The first time the game Baccarat (spelled Baccara) was mentioned in print by a contemporary observer was in the early 19th century.  The written record that would document the origins and evolution of the game is, unfortunately, incomplete.  However, a close examination of the available material reveals some interesting facts surrounding the history of Baccarat, including a much earlier date for its arrival in the United States, that validates its continuing study.

Keywords: casino games, baccarat, game history

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 02: March 2010

Larry Gragg. “The Powerful Mythology Surrounding Bugsy Siegel,” Occasional Paper Series 2. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Journalists, authors, filmmakers, and historians have been interested in Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel for over six decades.  Collectively, they have crafted a cohesive mythological narrative of Siegel’s life one focused upon “rags to riches” success and his contributions to the development of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Most attribute to Siegel the inspiration for not only the Flamingo Hotel-Casino, but also for the glamorous, classy, flashy resort city Las Vegas became after World War II.  This paper describes the development of the myth since Siegel’s murder in 1947 as well as how it has been sustained.

Keywords:  Bugsy Siegel, casinos, organized crime, Las Vegas, Flamingo

View the paper here (pdf)

Paper 01: February 2010

David G. Schwartz. “Seeking Value or Entertainment? The Evolution of Nevada Slot Hold, 1992-2009, and the Slot Players’ Experience,” Occasional Paper Series 1. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Since the advent of the current economic decline, speculation about the impact of “tighter” slot machines on gaming revenues and visitation patterns has been rife.  Indeed, it is easy to make an intuitive link between higher slot hold percentages—that ultimately make the slot playing experience either shorter in duration or more costly, or both—and declines in revenue, handle, and visitation.  But examining the slot hold percentages and  slot denomination mix in the context of the changes in slot technologies over the years 1992 to 2009, it becomes apparent that there was no sudden arbitrary decision by slot managers to increase hold percentages.  Instead, players have chosen, in increasing numbers, to play higher-hold, lower denomination machines in place of lower-hold, higher denomination ones.   Player choice, not managerial initiative, has been the key determinant of higher slot holds in Nevada, and this pattern likely holds across the national industry.

Keywords:  Gaming, slot machine, slot hold percentage, Las Vegas Strip, Boulder Strip, Nevada

View the paper here (pdf)

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