Every year at the end of the UNLV-UNR Executive Development Program (EDP), Bo Bernhard, co-moderator of the program, Vice President of Economic Development, and Executive Director of the UNLV International Gaming Institute (IGI) tells participants at the annual gaming-industry bootcamp to stay in touch and offers them an invitation to reach out to him anytime.
In 2017 while Bernhard was celebrating the 4th of July holiday with his family he received a call. It was from leadership at the Monticello Grand Casino in Chile calling saying they needed Bernhard’s expertise immediately.
On July 4, 2017 a gunman opened fire inside the casino killing two people and injuring 6 others. Bernhard was asked to go to South America the next day and help manage the crisis at the Monticello by two alumni of the program.
Bernhard says 20 minutes after landing in Chile he faced hours of media interviews trying to make sense of the crime. He said his role was to “help soothe the pain of a hurting nation.” Bernhard conducted all of the interviews in Spanish.
For his effort, Bernhard was nominated for an INFOPLAY Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility, specifically, for career achievements in the Spanish language in gambling studies. The INFOPLAY Awards are based in Europe and honor good practices in the gaming industry from across the globe. He received the award on March 10.
In Spanish, Bernhard gave a heartfelt speech as he accepted the award in Madrid, Spain at the nation's most important opera house, the Teatro Real.
“I first came to Spain in 1996. I didn't speak a word of Spanish. But I learned fast. And I learned a lot.
I learned from my Spanish friends the importance of ceremonies like this. I learned the importance of seeing the world through new lenses. And I learned the importance of collective action and friendship.
Today I feel enormous gratitude for the lessons I learned in Spain. And today, in a world that is struggling and fighting so much, I promise to remember the spirit of Spain -- social, open and constantly aware of justice. As a result, Spain, you live in my heart, and in the hearts and minds of my daughters, and also in my team at my Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and your influence lives every day in our work. For this, I thank you. Long live Spain, and its spirit, as a model for all of us, forever.”
Bernhard graduated from Harvard, where he played baseball and soccer, with a double-major in sociology and psychology. He earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. at UNLV. He has been a professor at UNLV since 2002. Ironically, it was through his soccer skills that he learned to speak Spanish.
“I played soccer in Spain for six months after graduating from Harvard in a semi-pro league,” says Bernhard. “It was during this time that I picked up the language.”
EDP is one of the gaming industry’s most prestigious executive education programs. It offers industry executives the opportunity to gather to learn about gambling best practices and implementation in integrated resorts. EDP is now going into its 32nd year and has more than 1,400 alumni from 48 countries. It will next be held in Las Vegas November 4 – 13, 2022. For more information please visit: https://www.unlv.edu/igi/edp