Effective January 1st, 2023, Brett Abarbanel has been named the new Executive Director for the International Gaming Institute (IGI) of the UNLV. After completing her Ph.D., Abarbanel served as the Head of Social and Recreational Gambling Research at the UCLA Gambling Studies Program before returning to UNLV. She is also an associate professor at the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality.
Abarbanel’s research covers video games, Esports and gambling, operations and technology, and responsible gambling and community relations. She has presented her work in over 20 countries around the world and dozens of U.S. states. Besides, she is the Executive Editor of the UNLV’s Gaming Research & Review Journal, an editorial board member at International Gambling Studies, and Harvard University’s Brief Addiction Science Information Source. Moreover, Brett was a founding director of the Nevada Esports Alliance, which promotes the development of best practices at the intersection of the Esports and regulated gambling industries, and was an inaugural member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Esports Technical Advisory Committee.
Interim Vice President for Research, David Hatchett, welcomed Abarbanel to the executive team by saying: “The Division of Research is looking forward to working with Brett Abarbanel as Bo Bernhard transitions to the Vice President of Economic Development. We have discussed her vision for the International Gaming Institute and I am confident in her leadership of this very important program. I am also looking forward to having her join our executive leadership and the perspective she brings to the team.”
While Abarbanel herself stated: “It is an honor to step into the role of Executive Director at International Gaming Institute, a world-renowned research, education, and innovation hub for the study of gambling with a brilliant staff. I am eager to collaborate with our many stakeholders in academe, government, non-profit and industry, and continue to grow IGI’s reach and impact on the gambling world.”
A BRILLIANT, FULL OF RECOGNITIONS CAREER
Abarbanel earned her B.S. in Statistics and B.A. in Architectural Studies at Brown University and completed her M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she received the ‘Best Thesis’ and ‘Best Dissertation’ awards for her work on sportsbook patronage and online gambling user experiences, respectively. She also worked at IGI as a UNLV graduate student.
The executive was also honored by The Innovation Group with their ‘2015 Emerging Leader Award’ and was named in 2016 in the ‘40 Under 40’ list of young gambling talents. She has been interviewed as a gambling expert in local, national, and international media outlets, and served as a consultant for multiple industry, non-profit, and government entities. Abarbanel succeeds Bo Bernhard, who now serves as UNLV Vice President of Economic Development and will maintain his affiliation with IGI as special advisor to the executive director.