UNLV Law Forms Indian Nations Gaming and Governance Program

The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) has appointed the inaugural leaders of its new Indian gaming program.

UNLV Law San Manuel Indians tribal gaming
UNLV Law San Manuel Indians tribal gaming
Jennifer Carleton and John Tahsuda are heading up UNLV Law’s Indian Nations Gaming and Governance Program. The program was established through a $3 million gift from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. (Image: Casino.org)

In February 2020, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians bestowed UNLV with a $9 million gift. Of the contribution, $3 million was allocated to the law school to form a new program focused on Indian gaming initiatives.

The law school recently appointed Jennifer Carleton and John Tahsuda distinguished fellows to lead its forthcoming Indian gaming focus. Carleton and Tahsuda will establish and develop the curriculum and create the “first-of-its-kind Indian gaming experiential learning program.”

Carleton is the chief legal officer for Sightline Payments, a position she took last year after working for more than 14 years as a gaming attorney. Tahsuda is a principal at Navigators Global, a government affairs think tank in DC. He is also the managing director of Innovative Tribal Strategies, LLC, an Indian-owned consultancy that provides strategic advice to Native American businesses.

Next Generation of Tribal Attorneys

The remaining $6 million of the San Manuel gift was allocated for the UNLV William F. Harrah College of Hospitality — another UNLV school named in honor of one of Las Vegas’ early casino pioneers. The grant is being used to incorporate courses on tribal gaming into the hospitality college’s current curriculum.

The San Manuel Indians are based in Southern California’s San Bernardino County. The tribe’s primary economic engine is Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel. The massive casino has more than 7,000 slot machines and 150 table games.

The tribe’s $3 million UNLV Law donation is to train the future leaders of the tribal gaming industry. The endowment will fund research and training on Native American gaming, regulation, and governance.

The program was established in 2020 thanks to a generous gift from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and consists of specialized academic training for J.D. and L.L.M. students, public programming for diverse audiences, academic and policy research, and conferences and symposia examining current issues in tribal gaming and governance. Program faculty and leadership have extensive experience in education, gaming, federal Indian law, and tribal law and governance,” a statement from UNLV explained.

UNLV opened the William S. Boyd School of Law in 1998 and graduated its first class in 2001. The school is named after the co-founder of Boyd Gaming, who is also a Nevada attorney and remains the co-chair of his namesake casino company.

San Manuel Enters Nevada

UNLV said in 2020 that the $9 million endowment from the San Manuel tribe was its largest out-of-state philanthropic gift to date.

The tribe has since invested in Nevada by way of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. San Manuel acquired the off-Strip property from Red Rock Resorts/Station Casino in May 2021 for $650 million.

The tribe continues to be a community steward in Las Vegas. Along with its $9 million gift to UNLV Law, San Manuel, in April 2022, announced a partnership with UNLV’s International Gaming Institute to develop “a next-generation responsible gaming program.”

The tribe did not detail what sort of financial commitment it pledged for the initiative.

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