Bo Bernhard, the executive director of the International Gaming Institute (IGI) at UNLV, was recently named the Philip G. Satre Chair in Gaming Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. This appointment means both Nevada universities will work together to collaboratively offer the world’s most sought-out gaming studies programs.
Bernhard replaces the late Bill Eadington in the appointment to the Satre Chair. Eadington, the pioneer of commercial gaming studies, last held the Satre Chair position until his death in 2013.
Eadington was an economist and one of the first academics to study gambling. He was the founder of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he worked and taught for 44 years. During his time at the university, Eadington founded the Executive Development Program (EDP) in 1990 and the International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking in 1974—now known as the Eadington Conference, according to Bernhard.
“Being named the Satre Chair is the honor of a lifetime because of the role of my mentor,” Bernhard said. “Bill was one of the kindest, most generous people. He had the heart of an educator, and he always, always said yes. He took the time to speak with everyone, share his knowledge and teach what he knew regardless of who it was or where they were from. As a naïve undergraduate interested in learning more about gambling all the way through my doctoral program and beyond, Bill was an incredible mentor to me.”
Bernhard began his research career at Harvard University where, as an undergraduate, he completed a double major in sociology and psychology. Bernhard originally approached Eadington when one of his former professors attended a soccer game he was playing in and learned from the starting lineup announcements that he was from Nevada. The professor suggested Bernhard study gambling, and he quickly discovered that Eadington had written nearly everything he needed to know on the topic. Bernhard reached out to Eadington for help and soon received a package in the mail. The rest is history: Bernhard’s magna cum laude thesis on the community impacts of gaming and industry in Nevada was the foundation for analyses that have since been presented on all six inhabited continents. After earning his Ph.D. in 2002, Bernhard was named the inaugural research director at IGI, and in 2011, he became IGI’s executive director.
In his new role as the Philip G. Satre Chair in Gaming Studies, Bernhard will maintain his position at UNLV. He will continue to facilitate the world-renowned Executive Development Program held in Lake Tahoe each fall, which Bernhard and University of Nevada, Reno, College of Business Dean Greg Mosier brought both universities together to collaborate on. EDP is known globally as gaming’s most prestigious leadership development academy. As the Satre Chair, Bernhard will also continue to develop the gaming minor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and will spend time in Reno developing courses.
“This is the quintessential bridge linking the two great universities of Nevada,” said Tom Piechota, vice president of the Division of Research and Economic Development at UNLV. “The work UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno, do together in the field of gaming will continue to foster the state’s reputation as a leader in this area.”
Before his passing, Eadington asked his mentee to take over both EDP and the International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking.
“Bo has continuously worked to collaborate with the College of Business on the topic of gaming,” Mosier said. “His efforts throughout his time in Nevada were never in silos. He’s an incredible person and a terrific asset to have in the state.”
Eadington’s family was in attendance at the International Conference on Gaming & Risk Taking this month, when the Satre Chair announcement was made, making the appointment all the more special for Bernhard.
“My family and I are delighted Bo has been chosen as the second recipient of the Satre Chair,” said Margaret Eadington, wife of the late gaming pioneer. “As Bill’s chosen successor, there is no better person to receive this honor than Bo.”
“I’m thrilled to continue the work that my mentor and I started, and I will strive to make both universities proud of all that we do together,” Bernhard said.
When asked about the diversification in Nevada’s economy and what it means for the future of gaming, Bernhard is quick to explain how relevant gaming remains in the Silver State.
“Certainly what we’re seeing is diversification within and around the gaming-hospitality industry,” Bernhard said. “However, gaming is a more formidable economic force than it ever has been, and never in human history have more people had more ways to gamble than they do today. Gambling remains a quintessential and long-standing human activity, and as Bill would say, it deserves our academic attention.”