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Occasional Paper Series

 

In 2010, the Center for Gaming Research launched an Occasional Paper Series that publishes brief studies of gambling and casinos with a policy and public-interest orientation.

These papers are generally between three and six-thousand words, written with the intent of informing the public discussion of gambling and casinos. Topics include gaming history, casino management, and studies in sociology, economics, and political science related to gambling.

Authors include faculty affiliated with the Center for Gaming Research, particularly Gaming Research Fellows. As part of their residency, fellows complete a paper for the series. The series also accepts submissions: if you are interested in submitting a previously-unpublished paper, please contact series editor David G. Schwartz.


Paper 23: October 2013
Davor Jedlicka. "Gaming Opportunities, Attractions, and Monorail Ridership in Las Vegas"

ABSTRACT: The history of Las Vegas monorail is presented in three stages: ideas, development and operations. The decline of ridership on the Las Vegas monorail is explained based on this history. The gravitational theory of people movement is used to propose overcoming the inertia to ride among the resorts. The gravitational theory suggests that monorail could contribute to the “Las Vegas Experience” as a force in attracting visitors from around the world. An increase in inter resort visitation rates via the monorail is likely to increase the overall gaming revenues and prevent the end of monorail operations.

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 22: June 2013
David J. Hart. "Shipwreck with Speculator: Early Modern Representations of Risk and Gambling"

ABSTRACT: Charles Cotton’s Compleat Gamester, one of the best known manuals accompanying a virtual pandemic of gambling fever across early modern Europe, likens gaming to shipwreck since there are “but few Casts at Dice betwixt a rich man and a beggar,” “but few inches between [living] and drowning.” This conjunction of shipwreck and gaming recurs in early modern literature and constitutes a rhetorical topos in the sense of philosopher Hans Blumenberg. I examine several instances of this conjunction (e.g. in Cardano’s autobiography, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, and Joseph de la Vega’s Confusion de Confusiones) and suggest that the conjunction can be understood according to Ian Hacking’s thesis on the contemporaneous development of probability theory.

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 21: April 2013
Stephen Andrade. "Visual Metaphor in Games of Chance: What You See is What You Play"

ABSTRACT: Visual images have been a key element in the development of wager-based games. The legacy of visual metaphor in gaming can be traced through paper ephemera such as playing cards and lottery tickets. Both paper and printing technology ushered the age of wide spread playing opportunities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Modern play behaviors have given way to Postmodern gaming norms in digital space. The digital age has presented a new set of challenges for gaming architecture in wager-based play. Action research in prototyping games is beginning to reveal a new and different set of game characteristics.

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 20: August 2012
Christopher Wetzel. "Moral Markets and the Problematic Proprietor: How Neoliberal Values Shape Lottery Debates in Nevada"

ABSTRACT: All but seven states have legalized lotteries since New Hampshire ushered in the modern lottery era in 1964. Although casino gaming has been permitted since 1931, Nevada has rejected multiple legislative proposals amend the State Constitution and create a state-run lottery. This paper theorizes the lottery’s absence in Nevada, focusing in particular on the role of the state. Lotteries are distinct from other forms of gaming because states act simultaneously as the operation’s regulator and proprietor. In this case, Nevada’s lottery legalization debates over the last half century reflect the profound moral valence of markets. The state as a potential gaming proprietor is framed as a problematic actor that will distort the gaming market, specifically by competing unfairly at the expense of casino operators. Keywords: Nevada, legalization, state, casinos, neoliberalism

View the paper here (pdf)



Paper 19: July 2012
Oliver Lovat. "Pyramids to Players Clubs: The Battle for Competitive Advantage in Las Vegas"

ABSTRACT: The evolution of the Las Vegas casinos from owner operator to the institutionally financed and corporately managed casino-resort has been the predominant feature of the evolution of the US Gaming market in the past 30 years. This paper examines the strategic frameworks used by Las Vegas casino resorts and identifies the drivers for competitive advantage moving forward. Keywords: strategy, marketing, casinos, gaming, competitive advantage

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 18: June 2012
Jessalynn Strauss. "From the Last Frontier to the New Cosmopolitan A History of Casino Public Relations in Las Vegas"

ABSTRACT: This research chronicles the history of public relations by the gaming industry in Las Vegas. Reflecting larger trends in the field, public relations efforts by the casinos and hotels in this popular tourist destination have used a variety of communication tactics over time to promote themselves to potential Las Vegas tourists. Based on archival materials from over 30 casinos and gaming corporations, this paper identifies four ways in which public relations is practiced in the gaming industry and four macro-level trends in the evolution of casino public relations in Las Vegas.

Keywords: public relations, casinos, Las Vegas, communication, marketing

View the paper here (pdf)



Paper 17: May 2012
Dean Macomber. "The Fiscal Forensics of the Las Vegas Strip: Lessons from the Financial Crisis"

ABSTRACT: Hitting with the force of a 100-year storm, the first two years of the financial crisis caused a $5.2 billion swing from profitability to loss for the top 22 performing Las Vegas Strip properties between peak fiscal year 2007 and 2009. By fiscal year 2011 visitor count had almost climbed back to peak levels but the aggregate loss is still stubbornly high at $ -1.6 billion. Other signs of recovery trickle in but are sporadic and volatile. This article is an attempt to disaggregate the variance and look at where Las Vegas has been, where it is now and how it got there to learn from this trying period and help manage the future.

Keywords: Las Vegas, financial crisis, profitability, analysis, recovery.

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 16: April 2012
Lynn Gidluck. "Halos, Alibis and Community Development: A Cross National Comparison of How Governments Spend Revenue from Gambling"

ABSTRACT: This paper provides a cross-national comparison of how governments around the world distribute revenues from state-directed gambling and how these choices have been justified by proponents and vilified by critics. Case studies where governments have popularized gambling expansion by “earmarking” revenues for particular good causes and where the state has collaborated with the voluntary sector to deliver programs from this revenue stream are examined. Lessons learned from challenges of various approaches are considered.

Keywords: lotteries, gambling, granting programs, comparative public policy

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 15: March 2012

Cristina Turdean. “Computerizing Chance: The Digitization of the Slot Machine (1960-1984)”

ABSTRACT: The digital slot machine entered the gambling floor in the mid-1970s and, within a decade, it became gamblers’ favorite and the main contributor to casinos’ gross revenue. This paper traces the main developments of this transition, particularly the role of the inventors, entrepreneurs, and the business context that made it possible. Decisively shaped by the culture of the casino floor and advancements in computer technology, the emergence of the microprocessor slot machine involved the gradual replacement of mechanical parts with digital components and created new opportunities for casino managers. Keywords: Slot technology, techno-politics, virtualization, casino gaming, Las Vegas

Keywords: Slot technology, techno-politics, virtualization, casino gaming, Las Vegas

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 14: February 2012

Kah-Wee Lee. "Containment and Virtualization: Slot Technology and the Remaking of the Casino Industry."

ABSTRACT: This paper examines how the casino industry was transformed by slot technology between 1950 and 1990. The criminalization of slot machines in the 1950s led to a massive evacuation of slot machines into Las Vegas casinos. In this concentrated environment, slot technology revealed to casino operators an automated surveillance technology that could disassemble the player into streams of virtual data, not through any overt means, but through the very activity of play itself. Slot managers and gaming technologists found themselves empowered professionally as they experimented with ways to transform data into profits. From the 1970s to the 90s, this technological development effectively linked up every economic activity in various casinos across the US, creating a virtual network that defeated the geographical injunctions designed to segregate gambling from other spheres of life.


Keywords: Slot technology, techno-politics, virtualization, casino gaming, Las Vegas

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 13: January 2012

Darryl A. Smith. "Souls/Soles of Signs: Tell Totems and the Sphinx Wager."

ABSTRACT: This paper develops a philosophy of play through an analysis of the foot wager of the Sphinx. Applying a construction of the cosmology of Plato along with a Socratic etymology of her riddle’s answer, it provides a reading of Sphingian contestation consistent with contemporary practices of deception found in modern games like poker. I argue that such deception is constitutive of the excessive illumination of signaling tells in games and that such excess, in turn, is indicative in allied political contexts of a covetous and acquisitive obsession with light. This theory makes use also of Ralph Ellison’s refiguring of Oedipal play as a theory of tyranny and serves as a riposte to the psychoanalytic idea of the Oedipus complex.

Keywords:  tells, true names, Sphinx, Oedipus, philosophy of play 

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Paper 12: November 2011

Glenn Light, Karl Rutledge, and Quinton Singleton. “Betting on the U.S. Market: A Discussion of the Legality of Sports Gaming Businesses.”

ABSTRACT: Over time, the US sports gaming industry has progressed dramatically beyond what the US anti-gaming law drafters envisioned. The result is a system of mostly antiquated laws controlling modern industry causing confusion across the board. This discussion, therefore, intends to shed light on the US sports gaming legal framework, including analysis of the preeminent US laws that regulate the sports gaming industry and a brief review of various sports gaming businesses that fall within the US legal rubric.

Keywords:  sports betting, gaming, Internet gaming

Originally published in the Thunderbird International Business Review, © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Paper 11: October 2011

Robert D. Faiss and Gregory R. Gemignani. "Nevada Gaming Licensing: Qualifications, Standards, and Procedures."

ABSTRACT: The process of acquiring a Nevada gaming license is long and consists of several procedures. Although the process is time-consuming, it is far from Byzantine or obscure; each step, as defined by statute and precedent, flows logically from the one before. This paper provides an overview of licensing process in Nevada, with additional information on the reasoning behind several of the procedures involved.

Keywords:  Nevada, gaming, regulation, casino, licensing

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Paper 10: September 2011

Robert D. Faiss and Gregory R. Gemignani. “Nevada Gaming Statutes: Their Evolution and History”

ABSTRACT: Throughout the past eighty years, Nevada gaming has changed considerably. Nevada’s gaming laws have both reflected and influenced that change. At every step of the way, regulatory changes paved the way for the growth and evolution of Nevada’s gaming industry into one of the world’s largest and best regulated.

Keywords:  Nevada, gaming, regulation, casino

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Paper 09: April 2011

Rex J. Rowley. “Where Locals Play: Neighborhood Casino Landscapes in Las Vegas”

ABSTRACT: Neighborhood casinos—gaming properties that target a primarily local market—are an influential feature on the Las Vegas cultural landscape.  Such institutions reveal a number of geographical patterns that have important implications in gaming and place studies.  The distinguishing characteristics of neighborhood casinos underscore the importance of proximity to a market, a focus that is evident in their advertising strategies.  Additionally, the prominence of such casino-resorts within their respective neighborhoods makes them important symbols and indicators of the character of the surrounding community.  These unique institutions teach lessons that can potentially be extrapolated to other gaming markets around the country.

Keywords: gambling, gaming, market proximity, cultural landscape, symbolic landscape

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Paper 08: December 2010

Nicholas Tosney. "Gaming in Britain and America: Some Historical Comparisons"

Abstract: This paper compares the development of gambling in Britain during the late 17th and 18th centuries with the emergence of gambling in Nevada during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawing on the existence of similar themes and ideas in different contexts, the author demonstrates several benefits of comparative studies of gambling. Focusing principally on gambling games played with cards and dice, this paper begins by examining approaches to taxing gaming before moving on to consider regulatory strategies. 

Keywords: gambling, gaming, Nevada, Great Britain

View the paper here (pdf)


Paper 07: September 2010

Fred Krauss. “Taking the Points: The Socialization Process of a Sports Book Regular,” Occasional Paper Series 7.  Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Patrons of a casino sports book use the environment for much more than the instrumental task of sports betting.  It is also a place to congregate with other like-minded patrons and through this process complex interactional dynamics develop over time.  The social world of the sports book emerges in a designated space for the betting act where patrons meet, interact, and establish a culture to which they adhere. 

Keywords: Las Vegas, sports betting, socialization, gambling, sports book

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Paper 06: August 2010

Laura Cook Kenna. “The Promise of Gangster Glamour: Sinatra, Vegas, and Alluring, Ethnicized, Excess," Occasional Paper Series 6. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Las Vegas has been linked with Frank Sinatra since the 1950s. The highly‐publicized performances of the Rat Pack (consisting of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford) at the Sands crystallized the image of Las Vegas as a place that mingled economic mobility with excess. This excess was often associated with ethnicity and frequently linked to crime. It was, however, the excess that made Las Vegas and Sinatra glamorous to many audiences.

Keywords: Las Vegas, Rat Pack, Gangsters, American Ethnicity

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Paper 05: July 2010

Theodor Gordon. “Nation, Corporation, or Family? Tribal Casino Employment and the Transformation of Tribes,” Occasional Paper Series 5. Las Vegas: Center
for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Since its modest beginnings in the early 1980s, tribal gaming rapidly developed into a $25 billion industry that generates over a quarter million jobs. However, the increasing employment of non‐Indians in tribal casinos prompts new cultural and political challenges. This paper analyzes tribal and commercial casino trade publications in order to demonstrate how tribal casino mployee relations play a significant role in transforming public policy and perceptions of tribal government in the United States.

Keywords: gaming, tribal sovereignty, labor relations, cultural relations

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Paper 04: June 2010

Pascale Nedelec. “Urban Dynamics in the Las Vegas Valley: Neighborhood Casinos and Sprawl,” Occasional Paper Series 4. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Las Vegas is well known for its urban sprawl.   While the casino industry has played an obvious role in the development of Las Vegas, no systematic study has evaluated the exact nature of urban growth and the rise of neighborhood casinos.   This paper argues that neighborhood casinos, contrary to tourist-oriented casinos, are not urban forces that drive the growth of an urban area but reinforce the status quo of residential developments.  Neighborhood casinos have nevertheless become a major asset in the economic and social building of residential developments and community life.

Keywords:  locals/neighborhood casinos, urban dynamics, Las Vegas

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Paper 03: May 2010

Theodore Whiting. “The History of Baccarat,” Occasional Paper Series 3. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: The true origins of modern Baccarat are probably lost to history.  The first time the game Baccarat (spelled Baccara) was mentioned in print by a contemporary observer was in the early 19th century.  The written record that would document the origins and evolution of the game is, unfortunately, incomplete.  However, a close examination of the available material reveals some interesting facts surrounding the history of Baccarat, including a much earlier date for its arrival in the United States, that validates its continuing study.

Keywords: casino games, baccarat, game history

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Paper 02: March 2010

Larry Gragg. “The Powerful Mythology Surrounding Bugsy Siegel,” Occasional Paper Series 2. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Journalists, authors, filmmakers, and historians have been interested in Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel for over six decades.  Collectively, they have crafted a cohesive mythological narrative of Siegel’s life one focused upon “rags to riches” success and his contributions to the development of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Most attribute to Siegel the inspiration for not only the Flamingo Hotel-Casino, but also for the glamorous, classy, flashy resort city Las Vegas became after World War II.  This paper describes the development of the myth since Siegel’s murder in 1947 as well as how it has been sustained.

Keywords:  Bugsy Siegel, casinos, organized crime, Las Vegas, Flamingo

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Paper 01: February 2010

David G. Schwartz. “Seeking Value or Entertainment? The Evolution of Nevada Slot Hold, 1992-2009, and the Slot Players’ Experience,” Occasional Paper Series 1. Las Vegas: Center for Gaming Research, University Libraries, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2010.

Abstract: Since the advent of the current economic decline, speculation about the impact of “tighter” slot machines on gaming revenues and visitation patterns has been rife.  Indeed, it is easy to make an intuitive link between higher slot hold percentages—that ultimately make the slot playing experience either shorter in duration or more costly, or both—and declines in revenue, handle, and visitation.  But examining the slot hold percentages and  slot denomination mix in the context of the changes in slot technologies over the years 1992 to 2009, it becomes apparent that there was no sudden arbitrary decision by slot managers to increase hold percentages.  Instead, players have chosen, in increasing numbers, to play higher-hold, lower denomination machines in place of lower-hold, higher denomination ones.   Player choice, not managerial initiative, has been the key determinant of higher slot holds in Nevada, and this pattern likely holds across the national industry.

Keywords:  Gaming, slot machine, slot hold percentage, Las Vegas Strip, Boulder Strip, Nevada

View the paper here (pdf)


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Last modified Thursday, 24-Oct-2013 15:17:15 PDT