The next new table game you play in a casino may just be the brainchild of a UNLV Harrah Hotel College student. After just the first semester of The Dr. Mark Yoseloff Gaming Innovation Course, more than a dozen student inventions are in the process of being filed for provisional patents.
“I was impressed by the students’ ingenuity. They started off with raw ideas which, when refined, evolved into remarkable products with enormous potential,” said Mark Yoseloff, a gaming innovator and former CEO of SHFL Entertainment, Inc., who has more than 100 issued patents. “With mentorship from hospitality and gaming company leaders, UNLV students have a place to ignite their creative spark and get their concepts to the casino floor.”
The semester-long course is taught primarily by Yoseloff and connects students with established gaming leaders who serve as guest lecturers and mentors. Classes focus on gaming commercialization concepts and technology, the patent process, and successful business strategies.
At the end of each semester, students participate in a gaming design contest judged by industry executives and hotel college faculty. Cash prizes are awarded to three top students whose unique inventions are commercially viable. Student-inventors, with Yoseloff by their side, pitch their products to gaming manufacturers. Throughout the process, students receive marketing and legal guidance from UNLV experts and industry leaders.
The Yoseloff Family Charitable Foundation provided $250,000 to launch the course and to assist students with the patent process. The John Kish Foundation provided cash prizes for the winning projects.
Among the student inventions in the patent process:
- Chinese Domino Video Wagering Game: Created by UNLV Hotel College graduate Hien Nguyen, who won $3,500 in the gaming innovation competition and first place for her invention with co-creator Mark Yoseloff. This is a new method of determining slot machine winning outcomes using elements of Pai Gow tiles.
- 888 Baccarat: Invented by UNLV Hotel College student He Lin, who won second place and $2,000 in the gaming innovation competition. The game is a new, noncommission baccarat taking into account elements of Chinese culture.
- Delayed Wager Increase in Video Gaming: Created by UNLV employee Gael Hancock and David Downes, a UNLV graduate of the Master in Hospitality Administration program. This is a feature applicable to any reel slot machine, which permits the player to change his or her wager after two or more of the reels have stopped spinning.
- Color War: Created by UNLV Hotel College student Young Gi Lee, this is a new, easy-to-play specialty table game based on the color (red or black) of the cards dealt to the player.
- Flip Card Blackjack: Created by UNLV Hotel College Student Aron Kock, this is a game in which a card is dealt face down under the side the wager when the player receives a blackjack. The winning odds for the side bet are determined by the value of that card.
“Partnerships like this serve as a bridge between the highly regarded Harrah Hotel College and gaming industry, both reinforcing and adding to Las Vegas’ position as the intellectual capital of global gaming,” said UNLV President Don Snyder. “By drawing on the immense industry expertise right in our own back yard, like that of Dr. Yoseloff, UNLV is better able to nurture student ideas into products and knowledge that will help strengthen our state’s key industry. I am very proud of what this represents.”
UNLV will build off the success of the gaming innovation course with a Center for Gaming Innovation this fall. The center is supported by The Knowledge Fund, created by the Nevada Legislature in 2011 and funded in 2013. The Knowledge Fund promotes research in areas Nevada has targeted for economic growth including technology outreach programs. The UNLV center will offer educational and startup support for gaming inventions created by community members who want to get gaming ideas off the ground. The center will be open to 20 members of the public, whose ideas will be vetted and guided through the commercialization and legal processes.
About Mark Yoseloff
Mark L. Yoseloff, Ph.D., former chairman and chief executive officer of SHFL Entertainment, Inc., oversaw the company’s growth from a small, three-product company to an iconic, global provider of proprietary products for the gaming industry. During Yoseloff's 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. Yoseloff is also currently a member of the UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees.