Caesars Entertainment and UNLV Partner on Gaming Technology Program

Posted on: April 29, 2019, 10:20h. 

Last updated on: April 29, 2019, 10:20h.

Caesars Entertainment and UNLV are teaming up to develop an academic program geared towards students who hope to create the casino floor of the future.

Caesars Entertainment UNLV gaming program
Students at UNLV will soon be afforded a new course option that focuses on gaming innovation. Caesars Entertainment is helping fund the program. (Image: Nevada Independent)

The casino operator and public research university say Black Fire Innovation – as the incubator will be known – will drive innovation in the hospitality, gaming, and entertainment industries. The 43,000-square-foot space will be located at the UNLV Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, and is expected to open in the third quarter of this year.

“Black Fire Innovation … will include replicated elements of a casino resort and multipurpose workspace. Ideas will come to life in elements of mock hotel rooms, casino floor, exhibit areas, sportsbook, esports arena, and virtual reality facilities,” a release explained.

We have a lot of really bright, talented students that are coming up with these great ideas, but a lot of times these students create these ideas, but they have no way to get it outside of our walls,” UNLV Economic Development Manager Liz Lewis said. “They create an idea, and unless they have other resources outside of UNLV, it is hard for them to figure out where to go.”

“This is going to create a hub, not only for the students but for the community and industry as well,” Lewis concluded. The partnership is a four-year deal, and Black Fire is expected to cost around $35 million to construct.

Betting on Future

Many in the gaming industry believe new technologies must be discovered and embraced to attract the next generation of patrons.

Sara Slane, the senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association, said recently, “Change truly is the new normal in our industry. As technology continues to disrupt the gaming world, regulatory reinvention must keep pace.”

Some say millennials – the generation that now represents the largest percentage of workers in the US labor force – aren’t as enticed by traditional slot machines as their elders. Skill-based gaming has been tested, but those games haven’t taken hold.

Certain gaming manufacturers say too much attention has been given to the millennial. “The focus has been heavy on millennials when the baby boomer generation is our core consumer, and that is not going to change anytime soon,” Aristocrat Senior VP of Marketing and Gaming Operations Siobhan Lane said.

Non-Gaming Focus

In order to get younger guests inside their doors, casinos across the country have invested in an array of attractions – many that don’t involve gambling.

Foxwoods recently spoke with to divulge their plans to create social media-worthy experiences, which appeals strongly with millennials. Though the tribal resort is predominantly known for its three casinos, the destination today additionally offers virtual reality games, a one-mile zipline where thrill-seekers travel at speeds more than 60 MPH, TopGolf, go-karting, and escape rooms.

That isn’t to say the casino is giving up on gaming, of course. Foxwoods VP of Brand Marketing and Digital Anika Howard says the company is working closely with several manufacturers and testing new innovative gaming products that will ideally appeal with younger audiences. “Millennials want to be more engaged and empowered,” she stated.