The Ultimate Casino Experience Awaits At Pinnacle – Good morning, and welcome to the Indy Gaming newsletter, a weekly look at national and international gaming issues and how the events fit in Nevada.
Brett Abarbanel, the new executive director of UNLV’s International Gambling Institute (IGI), could turn the keynote discussion of the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking into an episode of
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IGI research director at the time, Abarbanel focused on taking risks during the 90-minute conversation with two famous gamblers – poker standout Andy Bloch and sports gambler turned «Danger!» champion James Holzhauer.
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«We’ve always tried to emphasize that second part of the event’s name,» Abarbanel said of the May 2019 discussion at Caesars Palace. The conference is organized by the IGI.
Bloch was a member of the card-counting MIT blackjack team made famous in the book «Bringing Down the House,» which was the basis for the movie «21.» Holzhauer achieved international fame during his record-setting run on the television game show, «Jeopardy!» where he earned more than $2.46 million.
«One of the things that inspired me in that discussion with James was his background in gaming and his professional work as a sports bettor,» said Abarbanel. «How did that help him become this pop culture icon?»
He also focused on Bloch’s gambling and risk-taking background, including his visits to Strip resorts in the 1990s and early 2000s «to try to find the worst kinds of games that he could take advantage of as gambling.»
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UNLV Vice President for Research David Hatchett said in a statement that Abarbanel will bring a unique perspective to the system. Her official appointment took effect on 1 January.
«We have discussed her vision for the International Gaming Organization and I am confident in her leadership of this very important program,» he said.
Abarbanel is the fourth person and second woman to serve as executive director of the IGI, which offers research and education programs for the global gaming industry. She started working at the IGI as a postgraduate student in the mid-2000s when there were only a handful of full-time staff. IGI now has almost two dozen employees who touch all aspects of gaming and research.
«I think we’ve done a very admirable job of poaching highly talented people as they leave previous jobs or retire,» Abarbanel told former Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Becky Harris and former casino company executives. Alan Feldman and Jennifer Shatley, who are now involved. of the IGI.
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«We have convinced them of the wonderful ways of the academy,» said Abarbanel. «So basically, we’ve been able to really expand, not only in terms of personnel, but also in terms of expertise.»
Brett Abarbanel, executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, inside the research center’s mock casino on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)
Abarbanel succeeds Bo Bernhard, who served as the institute’s director of research for 15 years before being promoted to executive director in November 2011. Bernhard was named UNLV’s vice president for economic development last year and will continue his involvement with IGI as special advisor to the executive director. . Bernhard will also continue to oversee the development of UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation, a research organization.
«I’ve known Bo for 16 years and he and I have a lot in common,» said Abarbanel. “We share many similar views. That’s probably why we worked so well together.»
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Abarbanel earned two bachelor’s degrees from Brown University and completed a master’s degree and Ph.D. at UNLV. After completing her doctorate, she oversaw social and recreational gaming research at UCLA’s Gaming Studies Program before returning to UNLV IGI in 2016 as director of research.
Personally, his particular interest focused on the connection between gaming and video games and competitive eSports. In 2021, Abarbanel was one of seven industry experts named by the Gaming Control Board to an eSports advisory committee that recommends guidelines for maintaining integrity in eSports and betting.
«I remember talking about video games and eSports around 2014 and 2015 and a few people called me a nerd,» said Abarbanel. “I don’t mind that. Now, everyone is talking about the subject. Everyone wants to know more about it.»
«At the same time, we have to be careful about age restrictions when it comes to gambling,» he said. «We don’t want to advertise to children, for example.»
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«It is an honor to lead the entire International Gaming Organization,» he said. “Research is only one part of the work we do. We have a variety of different initiatives and programs that target different parts of the gaming world that we think are extremely important.»
Research at IGI also covers education and gaming innovation. He said that the organization has developed together with the gaming industry and that it contributes to the discussion «that helps the gaming world continue to grow.»
Brett Mufson, president of Miami-based Fontainebleau Development, is taking on the additional role of CEO of Fontainebleau Las Vegas, which the company is building.
In a statement Monday, Fontainebleau Chairman Jeffrey Soffer credited Mufson with helping the company reclaim the North Side development 12 years after the project was put on hold by the recession.
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«Brett and I have spent years together as partners and is a great leader whose expertise gives us great confidence to build our brand with unmatched consistency and focus,» said Soffer.
Mufson replaces Clifford Atkinson, a former executive with MGM Resorts International and former president of Luxor Las Vegas, who was hired as CEO a year ago.
«We would like to thank Cliff Atkinson for his contributions during his time at Fontainebleau Las Vegas,» the company said in an emailed statement. «We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.»
The unfinished hotel-casino had two different owners before Soffer’s company repurchased the property with financial help from Koch Real Estate Investments, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Koch Industries. Neither Soffer nor Koch Real Estate disclosed the cost of buying back the project.
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Two days before Christmas, Fontainebleau Development and Koch Real Estate said they had secured $2.2 billion to complete the development. The construction loan was secured through JP Morgan, SMBC, Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies, Goldman Sachs, Guggenheim and real estate investment trust VICI Properties. JP Morgan was the administrative agent.
He said the Fontainebleau will “take our iconic masterpiece that is Fontainebleau Miami Beach… and transform it into the Las Vegas market. As we approach our 70th anniversary as a brand, this is a fantastic opportunity.”
The expansion of legal sports betting has been recognized in The Hockey News’ annual «Money & Power & Influence» issue and has earned high praise from executives and BetMGM.
Among the magazine’s «Top 100 People in Power and Influence», MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle was ranked at number 45, three spots ahead of BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt, who was the subject of a question and answer article in journal. MGM Resorts, and UK betting company Entain Plc., each own 50 percent of BetMGM, which is headquartered in New Jersey.
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«We see that the NHL betting market continues to grow, ranking fourth in the US and second in Canada,» Greenblatt said, noting BetMGM’s marketing efforts to attract NHL fans by using hockey legend Wayne Gretzky including current star Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. promotional efforts.
«Hockey fans in Canada have a spirit of authenticity, and we wanted to fulfill that passion by working with two all-time greats,» said Greenblatt.
McDavid earned the No. 1 ranking. 8 in the Top 100 and Gretzky, who is also a studio analyst for the TNT network’s hockey coverage, was No. 61 on the list.
As for Hornbuckle, the magazine’s editors noted the company’s efforts to grow the legal wagon in Canada, which was launched last April.
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«As sports betting becomes more ubiquitous, MGM leads the NHL’s punting partners,» the magazine wrote, using the British term for gambling. «Because of notable names like Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid it adds an extra impact.»
BetMGM has sports betting partnerships with four NHL teams – Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Nashville Predators.
In a list of major team sponsors for advertising and promotion, 12 of the 32 franchises included sports betting companies, such as DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars Sportsbook. Two of the main sponsors of the Golden Knights are Circa Sports and Caesars-owned William Hill.
Caesars, a major sponsor of the Washington Capitals, operates a Caesars-branded sportsbook as part of a hotel at the team’s Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
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Other sports betting executives who made the Top 100 were FanDuel CEO Amy Howe at No. 54 and Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl at No. 58. Sportradar has a 10-year partnership with the NHL to provide league statistics and data, as well as real-. player time and puck tracking information can be used by sports betting operators.
The largest landowner in the Strip completed the purchase of the remaining 49.9 percent of MGM Grand Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay from Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust. The transaction was first announced in December.
VICI is paying Blackstone $1.27 billion and will assume $3 billion in company debt on the property. The rent
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