New initiative

UNLV teams up with new Palms owner San Manuel tribe on "next-generation" responsible gaming program

United States
Reading time 2:32 min

The San Manuel Entertainment Authority -a business entity of California's San Manuel Band of Mission Indians- has announced the development of a “next-generation” responsible gaming program in partnership with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

According to the tribe, the program is being developed “in preparation for new forms of gaming poised to enter California’s Indian Country.” The announcement builds upon previous investments and practices introduced by the tribe at its Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel.

“Through the years, the tribe has funded research and training partnerships with the California Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG), UCLA, and other institutions focused on safe gaming practices,” a press release explains. But as sports betting and iGaming gain momentum across the country, SMEA now seeks to further ensure gaming remains “safe and fun.”

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is set to collaborate with responsible gaming experts at the UNLV’s International Gaming Institute (IGI) “to leverage its pioneering research and methods in this area in a multi-phased research and implementation partnership.”

“At Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel, keeping gaming fun and safe is our number one priority,” said Yaamava’ Resort & Casino General Manager Peter Arceo. “For years, we have been recognized for our efforts in responsible gaming, which includes the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians being named ‘Responsible Business of the Year’ in 2021.”

According to the executive, the program aligns with long-held tribal values of safe gambling, and will permit the tribe to remain at the forefront of providing resources for responsible gaming. “SMEA is pursuing programming that meets our casino guests where they are, and where they are going so that they can be empowered to make responsible decisions,” he added.

The partnership between IGI’s experts and SMEA is expected to result in a values-based approach to support casino guests in developing healthy gaming habits, against a backdrop of emerging technologies and changing legislation, a press statement reads.

“What is so impressive is that both partners in this project possess award-winning, shared, and longstanding commitments to responsible gaming,” said Bo Bernhard, VP of Economic Development and Executive Director of UNLV International Gaming Institute. “Collectively, our IGI team has more than 100 years’ experience of working on cutting-edge, values-driven, and culturally resonant RG programming on all six continents.”

Bo Bernhard, Executive Director of UNLV International Gaming Institute

But the program to promote responsible gaming through training, education, research and integration, while initially announced for the tribe’s Yaamava’ Resort and Casino in California, is also likely to eventually expand into San Manuel’s new property: the Palms in Las Vegas.

The iconic Vegas resort, which the tribe acquired from Red Rock Resorts last year for $650 million, is set to reopen on April 27 after more than two years in the dark. When it does, Palms will be making history by becoming the first resort in Las Vegas fully owned and operated by a Native American Tribe.

Alan Feldman, a distinguished fellow at the International Gaming Institute who is involved in the responsible gambling effort, told Las Vegas Review-Journal the program is “likely” to expand into the Palms sometime after it opens. “This is a fundamental recasting and redefinition of what responsible gaming means,” he added.

Through this new endeavor, the tribe now wants to equip customers with the knowledge needed to navigate new gaming technology and trends, which could potentially lead to increased addiction risk levels. Research will center on the relationship between the gaming operator and the player, program effectiveness and the different attitudes, perceptions and awareness about healthy gambling, Review-Journal reports.