July 25, 2005

Calif. university to offer Indian casino degree

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California Indian tribe on Monday
said it would fund the first U.S. university degree in tribal
gaming to bring professional discipline to a
multibillion-dollar industry often "run on intuition."

Last year, casinos run by Indian tribes generated around
$21 billion in revenue, including hotels, restaurants and
shows, compared with $19.6 billion for Nevada casinos,
according to the National Indian Gaming Association.

The Sycuan tribe has donated $5.5 million to start the
research institute and degree program focused on tribal gaming
at San Diego State University.

The university's new program is expected to start in the
fall of 2006 and enroll about 20 students. It will range from
technical topics like slot machine operations to the policy
complexities faced by the industry.

"Indian gaming is a relatively young industry, and so far
it's been run mainly on intuition. I think it is time that we
brought some rigor to the management of these facilities," said
Steven Penhall, general manager of the Sycuan Resort & Casino,
located about 22 miles east of San Diego.

"The San Diego region has the highest concentration of
gaming outside of Nevada," said Carl Winston, director of the
university's hospitality and tourism management program.

"Tribal casinos aren't run by Fortune 500 companies. They
are more like family business, and managers have to be
sensitive to cultural issues," Winston said.

The new gaming institute's research program is also
expected to function as a clearinghouse for policy and legal
issues faced by Indian casinos.