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Universities agree to gaming research partnership

Tue, Aug 9, 9:18am by Staff Writer

During the first days of a two-week trade mission spanning three Australian cities, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval helped to broker a new gaming industry research partnership between the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and the University of Sydney.

With Gov. Sandoval on hand, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Dr. Bo Bernhard, executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute (IGI), and Professor Alex Blaszczynski of the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment Clinic & Research Unit (GTCRU) on Monday, August 1st.

According the agreement’s text, this ongoing collaboration will enable “both institutions the opportunity to lead in the field of policies and directions of research related to sports betting, integrity of sports, gambling regulation, and the psychology of gambling behaviors.”

Dr. Bernhard echoed that sentiment in an IGI press release:

“We are about to ‘invent the field’ of scientific study of these phenomena, alongside our colleagues in Australia,” he said.

“As a leader in gaming scholarship and gaming regulation, the IGI and our new International Center for Gaming Regulation (ICGR) are well-equipped to collaborate with a world-class scholar in the University of Sydney’s Alex Blaszczynski on issues that matter deeply to both of our communities.”

Of particular focus for both university’s research wings will be the continually evolving industry of interactive gambling, played primarily through internet-based online casinos and sportsbook operations.

Online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms have become a staple of Australia’s thriving gambling marketplace over the last decade. And although a federal prohibition on online gambling still pervades throughout much of the U.S., several states have legalized and regulated the industry – led by Nevada.

In February of Gov. Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 114 into law, creating the legal framework for Nevada to become the first American state to allow for legal online gambling enterprises. Crucially, AB-114 also allowed for the formation of interstate compacts, or agreements between Nevada and other jurisdictions where online gambling is legal, which would result in player sharing between the two parties.

In a statement announcing the recently minted research collaboration, Sandoval specifically mentioned online gambling as a prime motivation behind the partnership:

“As our state takes leadership of the emerging interactive gaming industry, it is important that this new segment of gaming be as accountable and regulated as the traditional gaming industry is in Nevada. In order to maintain the integrity of this sport, those who are participating, both from a user and provider standpoint, must be held to the same high-standard that we enforce on our casino floors. I can think of no better research entity to identify loopholes in the interactive gaming world as well as the psychological tendencies of those who seek to game the system than the International Gaming Institute at UNLV.”

“Today’s partnership with the University of Sydney will help to ensure that those who seek to do harm to the interactive gaming industry are better prevented.”

Over four days in early June, UNLV hosted the 16th International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking at the IGI. During panel discussions representatives from Nevada and Australia began exploring the potential for an expanded partnership, eventually prompting the agreement between two prominent universities.

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