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Investing in Winning Ideas

Posted: May 13, 2013

Mark Yoseloff in the Harrah Hotel College's Konami Gaming Laboratory

Las Vegas is regarded as the center of innovation in the gaming industry, and a new course this fall at UNLV will give students the chance to learn directly from local industry leaders what it takes to bring their gaming ideas to life.

The Dr. Mark Yoseloff Gaming Innovation Program, offered through the UNLV Harrah Hotel College, will launch in August with a course on gaming commercialization. Undergraduate and graduate students will learn how to design advanced casino games for casinos and the Internet, walk through the patent process, develop business strategies, and receive mentorship from top industry experts. The program is made possible through a $250,000 gift from the Yoseloff Family Charitable Foundation.

“Technology is driving the gaming industry like never before, and we want to give students the tools they’ll need to succeed in an increasingly competitive field,” says Yoseloff, gaming industry leader, former CEO of SHFL Entertainment Inc., and trustee on the UNLV Foundation board. “Gaming companies want more input from employees who understand the intersection of gaming with math, psychology, business, and sociology, as it’s these employees who will shape the future of the industry with an infusion of solid new ideas.”

A competition will mark the end of each semester. The Yoseloff gift will fund cash prizes, and the students with the most successful projects will get marketing and legal guidance to help them develop their products for the market.

As the program evolves, officials expect it will expand into a yearlong course with dedicated sections on innovation in entertainment, security, and productivity.

“This program solidifies UNLV’s reputation as the leader in hospitality education by placing our students at the forefront of innovations in the gaming industry,” says UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “Our students will learn directly from top minds in the gaming industry and our International Gaming Institute, setting them up to become the innovators we need to maintain Las Vegas’ role as the global intellectual capital for gaming.”

Faculty in the Hotel College and its International Gaming Institute, along with Yoseloff, will teach the course through the college’s gaming management concentration. Local industry and legal experts will participate as guest speakers. The program will be open to 20 undergraduate and graduate students from across all disciplines each semester.

“The Yoseloff program enhances UNLV's gaming education offerings in an area of profound importance to the future of the gaming industry,” says Bo Bernhard, executive director of the UNLV International Gaming Institute. “In this field, content has always been king, but never has it been more important than it is today, with the proliferation of online, social gaming, and other platforms for gambling and gambling-related activities.”

Yoseloff oversaw SHFL Entertainment’s growth from a small, three-product company to an iconic, global provider of proprietary products for the gaming industry. During his tenure, the company was, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, ranked by the Patent Board as one of the 35 most innovative consumer electronics companies in the world. Its patent portfolio was ranked number one in the world as far as relevance to the company’s industry.