On the first day of his gaming law course each semester, Drake Law School professor Keith Miller tells his students this: In order to take the class, you don’t have to think gambling is a good idea.
“Gambling is not going to go away,” Miller says. “But too much gambling is not good for society. Like many things, you have to find balance in it. So people need to know the issues and the legal framework so they can participate in the public policy debate about the role of gambling.”
Miller became interested in the topic a decade ago when he and then-Drake Law dean David Walker went to an alumni event in Las Vegas. Miller talked to Drake Law grads who were in the gaming industry as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and regulators.
“Several people said to me, ‘You need to have gaming law [at Drake]. There’s a good job market out there,’” Miller says. “I came back and taught a gaming law course for the first time in spring 2007.”
The three-credit course covers what constitutes gambling, the social harms of gambling, licensing and regulation, contracts, tribal gaming, state lotteries, sports betting, poker, and more. Miller also brings in guest speakers and takes students on a field trip to a casino for a behind-the-scenes tour given by law enforcement agents.
“I think the students are struck by how cross-disciplinary gaming is,” he says. “It involves administrative law, contracts, corporations law, securities regulation. There are a lot of different areas of law that are implicated by it.”
In addition to teaching gaming law, Miller co-authored a casebook, The Law of Gambling and Regulated Gaming (Carolina Academic Press). He also speaks on panels, consults on cases related to gaming law, serves as an expert witness in gaming law disputes, and is frequently interviewed by the media.
During this past football season, Miller became a national expert commentator on one particularly controversial issue of gaming law: daily fantasy sports.
Many people in the government, sports world, and financial community have called for the regulation of daily fantasy sports companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel. As the controversy intensifies, Miller has been quoted on the topic in The Wall Street Journal, International Business Times, The Boston Globe, The Des Moines Register, and GamblingCompliance and was interviewed on Bloomberg Radio and NPR, among others.
“I think one role an academic can play is to raise the issues,” Miller says. “I never overestimate my stature in all this, but I can raise the issues and questions that need to be asked.”
Miller sees the media attention as an opportunity to showcase Drake Law School as well as improve his scholarship and teaching. In fact, fantasy sports is often the most popular subject among the students in his course.
“It’s a lot easier for people to relate to sports betting and daily fantasy sports because they know the most about it,” he explains.
While some students come into the course knowing only about sports betting and poker, others are interested in gaming law because they have problem gamblers in their families and they want to help limit gambling.
Over the past decade, Miller has seen many of his students take that interest into their careers. Students have been placed with gaming law lobbyists through Drake’s Legislative Practice Center, and numerous alumni have moved to Nevada to get involved in the industry.
“Ten years ago we wouldn’t have thought this was going to take off the way that it did,” Miller says. “My only regret is I wish I had the foresight 20 years ago to see this was going to be a really big public policy issue.”