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Chris Sieroty

Major gaming conference returning to Las Vegas in 2013

10 April 2012

LAS VEGAS -- For veteran economist Bill Eadington, it was an easy decision to partner with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to bring one of the gaming industry's most important conferences to Las Vegas next year.

Eadington had hoped to hold the 15th International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking this year at Lake Tahoe, but budget cuts at the University of Nevada, Reno forced organizers to consider other options.

By partnering with UNLV, Eadington, director of UNR's Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, said the two universities could combine financial and academic resources.

"We are too small a state and underfunded to do this alone," Eadington said.

Eadington and Bo Bernhard, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at UNLV, on Monday announced the return of the four-day conference, coming to Caesars Palace on May 27-31, 2013. The 15th conference, held every three years since 1974, returns to Las Vegas for the first time since 2000.

"This is really a historic partnership," said Bernhard, during a news conference at UNLV's International Gaming Institute.

This will be the fifth time the conference is held in Las Vegas.

The conference over the years has attracted academics and researchers. At the 2009 conference, about 180 professional research papers were presented and about 300 people attended.

Eadington said both UNLV and UNR would soon "put out a call for (research) papers."

"We are quite optimistic," Eadington said. "We are targeting 500. We get the academics, policy makers, operators and regulators, but can we broaden it?"

They will focus on online gaming, the future of Las Vegas and casinos in the United States, gambling in Asia, gambling addiction and new gaming industry technologies. Besides academics, policymakers, operators and regulators, the conference is also expected to attract researchers, health professionals, mathematicians, international representatives and gambling enthusiasts.

Bernhard praised Eadington for creating a "field that is the academic study of gaming."

In 1974, the study of gambling was almost nonexistent, Eadington said. It was also nearly impossible to get industry executives to attend a gaming conference organized by an academic.

"The gaming industry had a lot of trouble working with academia" in the beginning, Eadington said. "They were very suspicious of academics."

But since the first conference attendees have ranged from card counters and mathematicians to behavioral scientists and professional gamblers, he said.

Eadington said with 40 states legalizing gambling, there is much more interest in gaming and it has become a more important industry.

The conference is also important to preserving Nevada's reputation as a gambling destination, he said, given that gaming has spread to dozens of other destinations, including Macau and Singapore

Eadington acknowledged Singapore and Macau's continued double-digit percentage growth in gaming, but he cautioned it wouldn't last forever. Macau's casinos generated $3.12 billion in revenue in March, a 24 percent increase compared with a year ago.

"Something will happen at some point," Eadington said. "We just don't know when."