It's only natural that the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law is widely regarded for its expertise in gaming law and regulation. Nevada has long been a worldwide leader in effective gaming regulation as well as the intellectual, business, and entertainment center of the gaming industry.
"When the law school opened 16 years ago, the faculty focused on developing a solid, well-rounded curriculum," says Ngai Pindell, associate dean of academic affairs. "After building a strong foundation, we have been able to focus more in recent years on specific areas of emphasis, including gaming."
Pindell oversees Boyd's extensive gaming law program, which will soon expand with the launch of a post-graduate Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in Gaming Law and Regulation. The law school will welcome its first LL.M. class in the fall of 2015.
"The public's general impression of the gambling experience is influenced heavily by movies, legend, and, to a large extent, focused branding efforts by the casino industry," says Pindell. "This relatively simple impression belies cutting-edge research in technology, hospitality, and big data as well as important legal and policy issues in employment and labor law, intellectual property, alternative dispute resolution, and regulatory law."
"Our LL.M. will bring leaders in these areas to the law school to teach, to learn, and to build on an extensive body of existing research."
Nowhere does that make more sense than in Las Vegas. As the old saying goes: Location. Location. Location.
"Our school should be a model for gaming law education," said Jennifer Roberts, an adjunct gaming law professor at Boyd, describing what many regard as the gambling capital of the world as the perfect place for a law school to offer a specialized gaming law program.
Boyd offers more gaming courses to Juris Doctor students than any other law school in the country, including classes in state gaming law, federal gaming law and policy, Indian gaming, resort and hotel casino law, gaming legislation, and gaming transactions.
"Although a number of law schools across the country have introductory gaming law classes, Boyd is the only one with an extensive curriculum that offers a unique policy perspective," said Anthony Cabot, a partner in the gaming law group at Lewis Roca Rothgerber and faculty advisor for the UNLV Gaming Law Journal.
Boyd is home to the UNLV Gaming Law Journal, a publication that has grown along with the school and gaming industry; a flourishing Gaming Law Society; and the Robert D. Faiss Lecture on Gaming Law & Policy, an annual event that draws gaming industry leaders to the law school to deliver public lectures. Faiss, a nationally acclaimed gaming attorney who began teaching Introduction to Gaming Law and Policy at night with only a handful of students in 2001, passed away in June.
In September, the school hosted a three-day Gaming Law Conference on Regulating Land-Based Casinos. A national conference for lawyers, academics, gaming operators, policy-makers and more, the event featured gaming leaders in the field of regulation, compliance, operations and enforcement, and included keynote presentations by A.G. Burnett, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and Jan Jones Blackhurst, former mayor of Las Vegas and executive vice president of Caesars Entertainment.
Once a boutique area of legal practice, gaming law has grown more sophisticated and more central to regulators, law firms, and gaming operators managing the worldwide growth of the gaming industry. Macau alone generated $40 billion in revenue in 2013 and more than $4 billion in March 2014.
Nationally, casinos are a $38 billion industry that continues to boom in places such as Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Kansas and, of course, Nevada.
"You had a handful of gaming attorneys 30 years ago," Cabot said. "There are hundreds today. With hundreds of tribal jurisdictions and gaming companies, each one has at least one attorney, so do state and federal governments."
Gaming law is "far more nuanced today than it was early on," added Cabot, noting an increased interest in anti-money laundering laws as well as the prevalence of Internet gaming, a relatively new component of gaming law.
As online gaming expands, compliance officers and lawyers with a working knowledge of gaming issues and law will be needed, he said.
The law school's location in the world's leading gaming city provides UNLV students with unique access to professional community connections and high-quality gaming resources.
"Boyd students are fortunate enough to entertain speakers from within the most experienced and respected Gaming Commission around, the Nevada Gaming Commission," said Tanya M. Fraser, president of the Gaming Law Society. "UNLV is home to the International Gaming Institute and its attendant experts in the field. Moreover, the law school is named after William S. Boyd, attorney and co-founder of Boyd Gaming Corporation. Mr. Boyd often speaks to the Boyd student body about his experiences and even hosts a small group of students for a tour of Sam's Town and lunch."
Fraser became interested in gaming law after working for 20 years in the gaming industry for both commercial and tribal casinos, including a couple tribes in California.
"I began to understand how important a tool gaming can be for them, and I thought that I could best serve the tribal community through the law," she said, adding that the Gaming Law Society offers many opportunities for students to learn about the ways the gaming industry and the law intersect. The student-run group also helps foster a better understanding of the practical role of gaming attorneys and what they face on a day-to-day basis.
"Although there are a relatively small number of attorneys who practice strictly gaming law in Nevada, the Gaming Law Society strives to impress students with the fact that Nevada attorneys invariably deal with gaming law in some way at some point in their careers," Fraser said.