IWD: Educating the industry’s next generation

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To mark International Women’s Day, executive director Brett Abarbanel discusses how UNLV’s International Gaming Institute educational centre and programmes promote diversity, in particular, encouraging women to join the industry
The post IWD: Educating the industry’s next generation first appeared on EGR Intel.  

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, I am proud to share our work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s International Gaming Institute (IGI). For more than 30 years, IGI has provided research-based solutions, cutting-edge insights and executive education to stakeholders in the gambling and gaming industry.

These stakeholders include industry professionals, government representatives, non-profit entities, gamblers, other academic institutions and more. With experience in areas that include casino and hospitality innovation, regulation and policy, esports and responsible gambling, IGI has been called upon to provide its research expertise to more than 100 jurisdictions across all six inhabited continents around the globe.

In everything we do, we work to ensure perspectives from different backgrounds are present. This diversity of thought allows our many centres, programmes and initiatives to consider unique angles and generate fresh ideas. All our programmes encourage that diversity and, in particular, the spirit of this celebratory day: women. We do this across all levels of education, from the very beginning to the university setting, to the industry workforce, community and beyond.

Our programmes

At school level, IGI proudly emphasises community outreach through initiatives like the Young Executive Scholars Hospitality and Tourism Programme (YES), which gives students (ages 11 to 18) a behind-the-scenes look at the career and educational opportunities that the hospitality industry provides. YES works in partnership with Nevada’s Clark County School District, with over 20 local schools represented and 200 students served annually. Our YES students are 90% first-generation university students, and 60% identify as female.

We’re also proud to announce the latest programme in the collection, YES Gamers. YES Gamers will allow under-resourced and underrepresented high school students from Las Vegas to gain exposure to the diversity of careers in the interactive entertainment industry. The students will be provided with important resources to set them on the path to success for these careers, such as exposure to post-secondary education and training programmes.

At university level, our Centre for Gaming Innovation (CGI) is an academic incubator that creates innovative and commercially viable games: casino games, video games, learning games and more. Over the past 10 years, CGI has supported seven patents issued to female innovators, while 10 CGI gaming concepts invented and designed by women that have been licensed or sold to gaming manufacturers.

And at industry workforce level, we partner with the world-renowned University of Nevada, Reno, College of Business and Extended Studies, on the Executive Development Programme (EDP), now in its 34th year.

EDP naturally features extensive diversity among attendees, speakers and content, as its goals are to prepare participants’ capacity to lead and manage in a changing environment. The 2023 programme included 24 women leaders in gaming from seven countries, and speakers across the years have included Punam Mathur, executive director of the Elaine P. Wynn and Family Foundation; Amy Ayoub, owner and president of The Zen Speaker; and Maria Christina Annaloro, director of government relations and responsible gambling at Las Vegas Sands Corporation. We are also thrilled to have Holly Gagnon, president and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corporation, as one of our team captains for EDP participants.

By incorporating diverse points of view in all our programmes, we enhance our work. We make sure that IGI understands that the way each person, community and culture we work with around the world interprets and interacts with our field in a way that is reflective of their unique experiences. And from this foundation, we can provide the best research, education and innovation to our gambling stakeholders.

Brett Abarbanel, PhD, is executive director at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) International Gaming Institute (IGI), with an affiliate position at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre in the School of Psychology. Her academic work covers video games, esports and gambling, sports betting, operations and technology, and responsible gambling and community relations. Abarbanel sits on numerous boards and committees for industry, government and non-profit organisations, including service as a founding jury member of the Deutsche Stiftung Glücksspielforschung, and editorial board member of International Gambling Studies and Harvard University’s Brief Addiction Science Information Source. She is a founding director of the Nevada Esports Alliance, which promotes development of best practices in the esports and regulated gambling industries, and an inaugural member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Esports Technical Advisory Committee.

The post IWD: Educating the industry’s next generation first appeared on EGR Intel.


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