Sycuan Bets SDSU Gaming Program Will Be a Winner - Friday 12th of August 2005

The business of American Indian gaming goes under the microscope at San Diego State University with the creation of an academic center dedicated to the subject.

A $5.47 million gift from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, owners of the Sycuan Resort and Casino near El Cajon, will fund the increased study, which will take the form of undergraduate classes and advanced research.

Sycuan tribal Chairman Daniel Tucker said he hoped the center will “help support the continued growth of the tribal gaming industry.?

San Diego County is home to eight American Indian gaming operations, while California is home to more than 50. Tribal casinos do not publicize revenues, and there is no publicly available report on the amount San Diego County’s casinos bring in. Statewide, American Indian casinos produced $5.3 billion in revenue in 2004, according to the Indian Gaming Industry Report by Alan Meister, an economist with the Analysis Group of Los Angeles.

The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming will be part of San Diego State’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program. Undergraduates will be able to tailor their management degrees around tribal gaming, beginning in the fall of 2006.

“San Diego casinos alone could absorb our first several years of graduates, based on their appetite for entry-level management,? said Carl Winston, director of San Diego State’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.

Once the program is fully developed, university officials expect 20 students a year to graduate from the management program with a tribal gaming emphasis.

On top of training entry-level managers, the San Diego State program will conduct academic research. Subjects will include legal and policy issues, as well as best practices for management, said Winston.

Varied Approaches

By itself, the legal and policy landscape is a big subject, with the special way the United States treats American Indian nations, and the varied approaches individual states take to American Indian casinos within their borders.

Among other things, Winston said the San Diego State program will help students learn how tribal government works, which has a bearing on their careers.

Founders also see the San Diego State center as a place where the public at large can learn about tribal gaming. San Diego State publicists describe the center “as a point of engagement between gaming tribes and the wider community.?

Plans for the San Diego State institute include filling a professor’s job — or an endowed chair — using the Sycuan gift. Winston said the university will conduct a national search for the position.

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