Pennsylvania is the second largest commercial gaming state in the United States and generates the highest tax revenues from gaming of any state in the US. While the industry in the state is not yet 15 years old, it offers a wide array of gaming verticals in both the brick-and-mortar and online worlds. Widener University Commonwealth Law School has moved forward to ensure there is an in-state solution to serve the state’s gaming law education needs.
Law School Dean Christian A. Johnson has worked to develop special offerings for gaming at the law school. His latest effort is an expanded class in gaming law. When Dean Johnson needed to find a qualified adjunct professor for the class, he didn’t have to look far before enlisting Widener alumna Susan Hensel of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Hensel previously provided a gaming law course between semesters at Widener, and that successful offering was expanded to provide the recently finished semester-long course.
Hensel was the first person hired by the PGCB, and now serves as its director of licensing. She’s served two terms as president of the International Association of Gaming Regulators, and is also on the advisory board of All-In Diversity, a nonprofit organization with a global reach working to address the issues of diversity and inclusion in gaming. Hensel is also a sought-after speaker on gaming law and regulation around the world, and has published numerous articles on gaming regulation.
As a result of limitations imposed by the state of Pennsylvania due to the pandemic, in the middle of the semester the class quit meeting on the Widener campus and took to Zoom.
Joining Hensel in the class was an esteemed group of guest lecturers including Ellen Whittemore, general counsel of Wynn Resorts; Kevin O’Toole, executive director of the PGCB; Joseph Grad, of the Law Offices of Joseph Grad; Steve Ruddock, editor of Gaming Law Review; Christian Genetski of GC FanDuel; and several others.
Hensel noted: “I was thrilled and honored to be selected to teach this class. It was also great to both work with and learn from the great group of guest lecturers.”
It appears Widener is bullish on gaming. In announcing the class, Dean Johnson stated: “Pennsylvania is now one of the largest gaming states in the United States, and we want to take a more active role in providing first-class educational opportunities to meet the demands of the legal community in serving this industry.”
Students have given high marks to Widener for offering exposure to this specialized area of the law. As one student put it, “I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this course. I thought the subject matter sounded interesting, but didn’t know much about gaming law. At the end of the semester, I can say that this was one of my favorite classes that I’ve taken while in law school.
“Professor Hensel’s structure was very engaging. We learned a lot about real-world legal application and many different sub-fields of this sector. I was always interested in what was going on in class.”