Gaming lecturer Scott Morrow’s love story with Las Vegas began in the late 1980s. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball team was making national news, and the city was abuzz over the opening of the Strip’s first megaresort, The Mirage.
Lured by the excitement, Morrow moved from south New Jersey to pursue his passion in the gaming industry and landed a job at The Mirage. While honing his craft, he was struck by how quickly fellow employees with UNLV degrees were moving up the professional ladder. It inspired him to return to college and get not just a bachelor’s degree but a master’s in hospitality management.
Fast forward a few decades, Morrow now finds himself on the other side of the lectern, teaching the next generation of industry leaders to get in the game.
Is this what you thought you’d do when you grew up?
No, my dream originally was to be a high school teacher and football coach. I was going to a community college when the casinos held a career fair at the student union. I needed to make some money, so I told my parents I was going to go work as a dealer. My mom really pushed back, but I promised I would finish my degree eventually. Once I got to Atlantic City and went to dealer school, I found that it was in my DNA. I really love the gaming business.
When I was in Atlantic City, I would write to UNLV just to get the admissions packet. I was following Runnin’ Rebels basketball at the time, and I just always wanted to go to UNLV. When my wife and I moved to Vegas, we bought basketball tickets for the national championship team the second we stepped off the plane.
Later, when I started working at The Mirage, I noticed an influx of UNLV hospitality graduates in the MGM management associate program. I watched these folks come in with little experience – but they had that UNLV background – and they were getting promoted. I knew I could either get upset about it or finally go finish my degree. I put my foot on the gas, got my degree after 19 years, and kept my promise to my mom!
When was a time you were daring?
I left a tremendous job in Las Vegas to go work in Macau, China, to be a part of MGM’s opening team. It was life-changing and really the tipping point of my career. Later, I went to work in the U.S. Commonwealth of Saipan, and that experience really helped me polish my international guest service. I learned about the different cultures and even picked up a bit of Mandarin. These experiences help me connect and appreciate our international students on a different level.
Favorite gaming-related movies?
- Rounders: It gave poker a big lift and was portrayed pretty accurately.
- Molly’s Game: It’s based on a true story of an Olympic-class skier who runs underground poker games.
- God of Gambling: It’s a Chinese movie with subtitles. It’s about a gambler who loses his memory and makes a friend who “discovers” his gambling abilities.
Where do you see the gaming industry headed?
The gaming industry is alive and well, it’s just reinventing itself. We’re having record profits and job opportunities since the pandemic. I think there’s going to be a major shift toward the online space with the proliferation of sports betting and online casinos across the country.
What do you like about teaching?
It’s an honor to be on campus and interacting with our students. I enjoy asking what their dreams are, and then I do everything in my power to help them fulfill those dreams. I share with them my incredible network of industry professionals and give them job leads. Not only am I teaching them to be book smart but also how to build their own network and career launching pad as they move into the industry.
What advice to you give students?
Uphold your character and reputation, work hard, and create a great network of colleagues – and please include me in your network!
I know it can be difficult to wake up every day, drive to school, find parking, get to class, study – but I’m here to remind students that it is worth it. UNLV has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to have a wonderful career.