Who Knew?: Parlaying Sports and Law

LL.M. in Gaming Law and Regulation helps UNLV Boyd alums Daniel Maloney Jr. and Brian Scroggins Jr. in the sports betting game 

Monday, November 29, 2021

By Andy Samuelson

Daniel Maloney Jr. grew up in New York in the late 1980s cheering for an unusual combination of teams in the New York Mets and Rangers, Buffalo Bills, and New Jersey Nets. Meanwhile, in the Southern Nevada desert, Brian Scroggins Jr. was a fan of the greatest show in Sin City, the hometown UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

When the two crossed paths decades later in Las Vegas, the rooting interests of their youth had been supplanted by real-life opportunities in the sports world—specifically, the aggressively expanding landscape of sports gambling.

“Brian and I hit it off right from orientation,” Maloney Jr. says, recalling their introduction at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law in 2019. “He might be the best networker I’ve ever met in my life. He can talk to anyone about anything. So I followed him around at various speaker events as he talked to his connections, and as a result, I got introduced to people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.” 

Each armed with juris doctor degrees—Maloney from the Seton Hall University School of Law, Scroggins from the University of Kentucky’s J. David Rosenberg College of Law—the two became friends while pursuing their master’s degrees in gaming law and regulation at UNLV Boyd Law, the only school in the country to offer such an LL.M.

Scroggins, who attended Sierra Vista High School, admits he might have had an advantage on Maloney in relationship-building, since he grew up around casinos and sportsbooks. However, he’s quick to add that UNLV Boyd’s LL.M. program levels the playing field for non-locals when it comes to real-world opportunities and externships.

“With Las Vegas being the entertainment—and now sports—capital of the world, there are a ton of opportunities to meet people in the industry, including speaker series and Global Gaming Expo (G2E) events,” says Scroggins, who earned his LL.M. in 2020 and turned it into a regulatory compliance position with WynnBET. “Because we were in the program, Daniel and I were fortunate to be able to extern for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.”

Maloney also lauded the LL.M. program, which covers such topics as state lotteries, gaming licensing and regulation, sports betting, employment relations, and zoning.

“I’ve never been immersed in one industry the way I was while at Boyd,” says Maloney, who was named the first director of sports betting for the New Hampshire Lottery in October 2020, shortly after completing his LL.M. “You can’t overstate the faculty’s level of expertise, and when you factor in the location it becomes all-encompassing.

“Being in that environment, you really feel like you are part of the greater gaming community, which allows you to build a network of contacts you can learn from. And the school’s connections for externships provides opportunities for practical experience, which helps build your post-graduation résumé.”

Maloney and Scroggins found their way to UNLV Boyd Law at the perfect moment. A year earlier, in May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a historic ruling that allowed states to legalize sports betting. Before the decision, the only state where individuals could legally bet on sports was Nevada. Now, more than half of the U.S. offers legal sports betting in some form, and with that have come an abundance of jobs.

WynnBet, with brand ambassadors including Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Affleck, operates in seven states. It’s Scroggins’ job to sift through legal boxes stuffed with paperwork to ensure the company is compliant with each state’s regulations. He says sports betting’s nationwide explosion is just the beginning, particularly when it comes to mobile gaming.

“Sports gambling is still a small part of the gaming industry compared with certain casino games, or entertainment and retail operations,” Scroggins says. “But the next big step for many of these states and regulatory companies could be i-gaming. Expanding current betting menus, coupled with the additional tax revenue, is a market states are going to want to tap into.”

As these new gaming products emerge and more jurisdictions jump into the space—be it sports betting or otherwise—two things are certain: Opportunities for legal professionals to enjoy successful careers in the gaming industry are only going to grow. And UNLV Boyd Law will continue to offer those professionals a chance to broaden their knowledge and skills through its LL.M. in Gaming Law and Regulation.
 
“I would say to [any lawyer] who has a passion about the gaming industry, it’s an invaluable experience,” Maloney says. “The fact it’s the only program of its kind really sets its graduates apart.”

Adds Scroggins: “There’s no better place for it than Las Vegas. I have to credit it for changing the trajectory of my career.”