Gamblers are spending less at the casino tables. Now, a new program aims to reverse that trend and bring new ideas to the casino floor.                  

UNLV’s Center for Gaming Innovation may look like a casino floor, but many of the games are still under development.

Mark Yoseloff, a former gaming executive, started the program two years ago.

“At one end, they start with their ideas, and at the other end, we come out with finished products able to go into casinos,” he said. “One problem we face today is that we have not evolved all that much in the last few years, and so I think the industry is looking now at new products.”

The program is delivering – creating 25 new patent applications and six new gaming products. Some graduates of the program founded three companies.

“We’re creating new products, three new companies and, hopefully, a bunch of jobs,” Yoseloff said.

Taylor Ross is a student. He developed a blackjack variation that appeared in a few Las Vegas area casinos.

“One of the things the mentors always talked about was that, if you’re ever going to come up with a game, you had to be a player of the game,” he said. “So one night, I was playing blackjack, and it just came to me.”

Charlie Wang is a former student. His version of pai gow poker, which he calls pai wow, is carried at Palace Station.

“It is very exciting, and I hope everybody goes and gives it a try,” he said. “When I heard about this program, it just, it got my attention right away, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to take this class.'”

As these young inventors explain their creations, there’s a sense of pride.

For Wang, it goes a little further. He’s a pit boss at Palace Station and gets to watch people play his game.

“I pay a little bit extra attention on my table to see the reactions of the players, and, you know, it’s very exciting to watch them,” he said.

The center was privately funded when it opened. Its $2 million budget is now covered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Twenty percent of the profits from students’ inventions goes back into the program.