Brett Abarbanel

Executive Director, International Gaming Institute
Associate Professor, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality
Affiliate Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles Gambling Studies Program
Expertise: Esports & Gambling, Gaming, Gaming Technologies, Tourism, Responsible Gambling


Brett Abarbanel is the executive director of UNLV's International Gaming Institute, with an affiliate position at the University of California, Los Angeles’s Gambling Studies Program. She has expertise in global gambling and social science applications, and her research covers Internet gambling policy and behavior, esports and gambling, operations and technology, and responsible gambling and community relations.

Abarbanel serves as co-executive editor of the UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, which publishes internationally relevant gambling research articles representing a broad span of academic disciplines. She is a founding director of the Nevada Esports Alliance, which promotes the development of best practices at the intersection of the esports and regulated gambling industries. In 2021, she was among seven industry expert professionals named to the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s first-ever Esports Technical Advisory Committee, which is responsible for making recommendations to the board on guidelines for maintaining integrity in esports when betting is involved.

In 2015, Abarbanel was honored by the Global Gaming Expo and The Innovation Group with their Emerging Leader Award, and was named to the 2016 Global Gaming Business 40 Under 40 list.

She has been interviewed as a gambling expert for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Discovery Channel and served as a consultant for multiple industry and government entities around the world.


  • Sc.B., Statistics, Brown University
  • A.B., Architectural Studies, Brown University
  • M.S., Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Ph.D., Hospitality Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Brett Abarbanel In The News

Gadget Insiders
Dave & Buster’s, a popular entertainment chain known for its vibrant arcade games and family-friendly atmosphere, has recently introduced Betting that’s causing quite a stir. In collaboration with Lucra Sports, the company aims to allow customers to place bets on arcade games through a specialized app. This innovative approach, designed to enhance customer engagement and increase spending, is not being met with universal applause.
Not everyone is pleased with Dave & Buster’s plans to add a real money skill gaming option to its arcade experience. One critic in a position to do something about it is Illinois Rep. Dan Didech, who introduced a bill to prohibit precisely the sort of plan the family entertainment chain announced last week. Dave & Buster’s partnered with skill gaming company Lucra Sports to facilitate customers’ “friendly wagers” on games like Hot Shots and Skee-Ball.
Dave & Buster’s made headlines last week after announcing plans to incorporate peer-to-peer in-app betting for its arcade games. The news resulted in concerns and pushback from state gaming regulators and lawmakers who question whether such wagering violates gambling laws.
N.B.C. News
Arcade chain Dave and Buster’s plan to allow customer betting isn’t winning over everyone. Software company Lucra Sports announced on Tuesday that it was working with the entertainment chain to allow customers to place wagers on their arcade games through the Dave & Buster’s app. But some lawmakers are calling foul.

Articles Featuring Brett Abarbanel

students in spring
Campus News | May 1, 2024

News highlights starring UNLV students and faculty who made local and national headlines.

Spring Flowers (Becca Schwartz)
Campus News | April 1, 2024

A roundup of the top news stories featuring UNLV students and faculty.

The Las Vegas strip as seen on Super Bowl weekend (Josh Hawkins/UNLV).
Campus News | March 1, 2024

A collection of news stories and highlights featuring UNLV students and faculty.

The Las Vegas skyline (Josh Hawkins, UNLV).
Campus News | December 4, 2023

A collection of news stories highlighting UNLV’s dedication to community and research.