Message From our Executive Director

July 2020

There’s a certain rhythm to business that you get a feel for after you’ve been in any business for a while. When I worked in sports book operations everything logically centered around sporting events. There was only one annual lull in activity around the MLB All Star Break where we’d try to grab a little vacation as there was little to bet on. Post Super Bowl was also a window and necessary break from the exhaustion of the College and Professional Football seasons.  When I worked in the slot business, Christmas time was good because tribal and commercial budgets were allocated after G2E and international spend was waiting to come on line in the new year. The Table Games business saw things firing up before Chinese New Year and G2E Asia, as that’s where the action was as a supplier and distributor. As a regulator, board and commission meetings happened without fail and their rhythm was unique unto itself.

Admittedly, it’s kind of hard to find a rhythm now. With the cancellation of G2E and the start stop of some U.S. states efforts to reopen, the industry feels a little odd. As I speak with colleagues in Europe, they are starting to open up with a bit more optimism albeit, their numbers are somewhat easier to manage - both in the smaller scale of their casinos and their population basis as the pandemic wanes. Asia is recovering, but government information out of Macau and the Philippines is often dubious. The unrest in Hong Kong also adds to the long term uncertainty in the region as we watch that situation play out and try to measure its impact, if any, to our industry.

At the ICGR, I believe we are creating our own rhythm. While summer sees a slowdown in academia in the traditional sense, we’ve discovered the silver lining around our recent virtualization. As we put together programs and think about how to market them, many of the traditional logistic hassles take a backseat. Whether it’s marketing to folks up until the last minute or scheduling time with our world class industry practitioners, time is better spent on quality content and delivery…and the internet connection! Over the last month, our deep dive seminars have begun to fill and the cadence of education is picking up. I participated in this month’s SBC Digital’s North American Summit and had a great time hosting a panel and attending several. While everyone would agree that nothing replaces meeting and connecting with folks in person, the ease of attendance and lack of “getting there” time and hassle provide a nice counter balance.

This month we began our five part series in association with the Washington D.C. Lottery for small business Capacity Building programs, a key component of Lottery’s new sports betting rollout. It’s designed to help to educate and expose District business owners to how they can take advantage of sports wagering. The program focuses on personal stories about sports wagering. I did the first session; Start-up to William Hill. Prior to the session, I spent a Sunday afternoon reminiscing with Joe Asher about some hilarious stories and now fond memories of what then seemed like life and death business decisions when we started our sports betting business back in 2008. Those experiences translate in so many ways now, with business owners that are faced with Covid – 19 challenges and a constantly changing business environment. Today, interrupting the normal rhythms and looking to find new opportunities is simply not a choice.

At the end of the month, we’re holding our world class sports betting seminars with our Educational Partner delivering the most comprehensive look at policy and operations. We also have seminars coming up in Gaming Audit, Enforcement Practices and conducting Custom Sports betting courses for jurisdictions around the country.

Our 2019 research fellows have also completed their contributions this summer. Research is a key to our very existence. We’re very pleased to have sponsored a timely and on point paper by Florida State University Professor Ryan Rosenberg, JD/PHD on Regulating Sports Gaming Data. This is a fantastic deep dive into sports data, how leagues and operators are approaching the industry and what may come out of this ever changing ecosystem. Angus Abadee, has also made his contribution with an in-depth comparative analysis of I gaming regulation policy. Again, right on point as U.S. states are going to be on an all hands lookout for new tax revenue opportunities in the near term. Due out in September, Wil Byrn, our third Research Fellow, is submitting an analysis of how Ireland can and will benefit from a new gaming regulatory structure. Whether in the U.S. or Europe, tax revenues remain one of the key driving forces behind regulation.  The ICGR is looking forward to its Fiscal Year 2021 call for research in the coming months. As the only academic institution dedicated to the sturdy of highly regulated industries, our research sponsorship will continue to play a Key role in the Center’s objectives.

All in all, look forward to the coming summer months.

Joe Bertolone
Executive Director
UNLV International Center for Gaming Regulation