Gaming industry research in spotlight at Las Vegas conference

Bo Bernhard

Bo Bernhard

The largest gaming conference on the planet is coming back to Las Vegas.

It’s the 15th International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking, and it’s slated to start Monday at Caesars Palace.

“This is the world’s first and finest gambling studies conference,” said conference host Bo Bernhard, who serves as UNLV’s executive director of the International Gaming Institute. “It’s become a massive and global event where people from all six continents will come and present state of the global gaming industry and good empirical research from all over the planet.”

Previously hosted in London, Quebec, Lake Tahoe and Vancouver, the conference returns to Las Vegas for the first time since 2000. It’s been hosted in Las Vegas five times since its invention in 1974, when many academics thought it was a ridiculous notion to study gambling in a scientific way.

Much has changed since then, Bernhard said.

More than 450 people from the world’s leading schools — including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge and MIT — will present hundreds of research papers on gaming topics ranging from sports betting to problem gambling to online poker.

One man has even submitted a paper claiming he’s solved baccarat. Bernhard said it will be interesting to see how his theory plays out under one roof with the world’s leading mathematicians.

Panel discussions include an argument between several industry experts about what is better: casinos or internet gaming?

Another welcomes to the stage the MIT card-counting team made famous in the movie “21.” They come together 15 years later to talk about their experience taking down a Las Vegas casino.

The conference is the brainchild of the late Bill Eadington, the former director of UNR's Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming.

Budget cuts at UNR forced Eadington and conference organizers to seek a new host. That’s when he called Bernhard and UNLV agreed to host the conference.

“Bill, on a personal level, was such a welcoming and friendly and kind soul and that spirit lives on,” Bernhard said. “This is his baby and most impressive accomplishment academically.”

The conference is open to the public. A five-day pass costs $745; a day pass is $300. The student rate is $295.

Tags: Business