Teaching the Watchmen

Anthony Cabot has been in gaming for over 30 years and is a partner with Lewis Roca Rothgerber in their Las Vegas office. Anthony’s book, which uses over 20 contributors and numerous editors, is Regulating Land-Based Casinos: Policies, Procedures, and Economics and the intention, says its architect, is to teach those that need to know, what they need to know, so each jurisdiction is able to create its own regulatory framework that is fit for purpose – instead of adopting standards from another jurisdiction which doesn’t fit quite as well as it might first appear. Anthony spoke with Casino International about the project, and his hopes for the book. Casino International: What was your path into gaming? Anthony Cabot: Thirty-three years ago I graduated from law school and took a job in Las Vegas, and fresh out of law school I worked for the pre-eminent gaming attorney and former governor of the state of Nevada, Grant Sawyer, who is also the architect of modern gaming control and regulation in the US. CI: Sounds like a great job to get out of school. AC: It wasn’t bad! CI: What was the inspiration for putting the book together? Why has nothing been done like it before, and why do it now? AC: For the last 12 or 13 years I have been adjunct professor at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and I taught gaming law. Through the course of that it became apparent that there was no good single source for either teaching gaming law, or for policy makers including legislators and regulators to go to learn gaming law. So we tackled each of those problems separately. Another professor from a different university and I created a casebook for law students so you could teach gambling law, but there was still a need for something that would be more of a textbook for regulators and lawmakers to use to understand the gaming industry before they went about making policies that result in laws that govern the gaming industry. This is particularly critical as you find more countries across the world are legalising and licensing casino resorts. There’s material out there about gaming regulation and a lot of it comes from conferences and things of that nature; there was never an effort to bring together the leading experts in each of these somewhat unique areas to put together a book that effectively would be used by policymakers to determine what the laws should be in any given country. I brought the project back to the university with the Associate Dean at the law school. We recruited 20 authors to write up separate chapters on different topics. We recruited 14 law students who had editorial experience, to be the editors. We went through a process of getting the different chapters, putting them through the editorial process to assure consistency and flow, and then to copy editors, and finally to the university press for publication. We ended up with a 600-page book with 19 chapters written by 20+ authors. CI: Who is the ideal reader for this? AC: The ideal reader would be anybody in government, whether it be at the politician or regulator level, who wants to know as much as they can about the industry they are overseeing. I look at it as sort of a textbook for a college for regulators and politicians. CI: With so many contributors and disparate voices, was the editing process difficult? AC: It wasn’t awkward in the sense that our contributors were all the most knowledgeable on their topic that we could find in the world. We wanted to have a coordinated approach to the book, so we went to great lengths to share all the chapters with each of the authors so rather than have one chapter be in isolation of another, they could build off each other. One of the things we found that is always problematic when you create a framework around a new discipline is that we have common terminology. When people talk about something – an approach a government uses, for example, to gambling – we all use the same identifiers. So we spent a lot of time in the education process for each of the authors to get a feel for common terminology, common approaches other authors were going to take, and integrating it so it doesn’t look like a book with 19 separate chapters, but rather a book that has continuity from front to back. CI: What are the chances of hitting the NY Times bestseller list? AC: They should have a separate list for law books because we sell thousands rather than tens or hundreds of thousands… But if it’s the right thousands of people, then you potentially have something quite influential. CI: Where did you find your experts? AC: We had two people from GLI contribute chapters, Patrick Moore who is on the technical side contributed a chapter on the technical standards necessary to regulate gaming devices and other types of technology used in the casino environment, and we had Kevin Mullally who is their general consul; he is a former regulator and he contributed a chapter on creating efficiencies and regulatory innovations. CI: What did you learn when you were putting the book together? AC: It was interesting because we had a conference around the book, and despite having been in the field for 33 years there is always something in every area to learn. A good example is, Patrick Moore was at our conference and I learned more about the vulnerabilities of the casino because of technology to third-party attacks and other types of potential cheating either from players or owners that I didn’t know before. Once you learn what your vulnerabilities are then you can see how you adopt regulations to meet those vulnerabilities. Even someone who has been in this business for 33 years can learn a lot about how you regulate your industry to achieve your policy goals. CI: There seems to be a hit among newly-opened jurisdictions where they immediately attempt to emulate what is seen as the strictest regulatory environment of them all – Las Vegas. Is this a good thing, in your opinion? AC: In fact, I wrote a chapter that focused on that particular point, specifically why jurisdictions should never just go and adopt another jurisdiction’s regulatory regime, for a multitude of reasons. The first major reason is that the policy goals of the different regions may be different; some jurisdictions like Nevada will focus on creating as many new jobs as possible, others may focus on player protection and yet others may focus on maximising government revenue. So we have different public policies and the laws are going to be different. If the laws are different, the regulations will also be different. Nobody has exactly the same policies; that’s number one. Number two, different jurisdictions have different capabilities. For example, a small island nation adopted New Jersey’s regulatory structure which included a requirement that anybody that supplied chips had to be licensed, and no-one would get licensed and supply chips to this casino, so they had a casino without chips which was a problem. The third thing is, each jurisdiction has unique problems. If you have a strong labour union issue, where the union has ties to organised crime, you might want to regulate that more heavily than in an area that doesn’t have organised labour unions. When you approach regulation, you never approach it from the perspective of ‘so and so’ has the best regulatory system, we’re just going to copy it because that is a recipe for disaster. The problem is that people make those decisions because they are uneducated. CI: So they should read your book… AC: That’s the point. The goal of the book is to get people educated into making smarter decisions. CI: From your perspective, one of the problems is getting the right information to the right people. What do you feel is in the future for regulatory control? Are things going to change? Will the book have an impact? AC: I don’t know if things will change specifically because of the book; it’s going to be because there is a greater effort around elevating gaming law and regulation to a type of academic discipline so that people not only have resources like books but also places they can go, like universities, to actually learn about the industry so their knowledge and experience bases can be much greater going forward. In the US we have something our new judges called the Judicial College, where they send judges to learn how to do the job. There should be a place where new regulators, and most of them have no gaming experience whatsoever, no casino experience, can go and learn how to be a gaming regulator, where policymakers can go and spend time learning about the industry in which they are passing laws, so we have a more educated and more consistent approach to how regulatory problems are handled.