Project archivist Lindsay Oden stands in front of the Eugene Martin Christiansen Papers, which are now housed in 255 boxes occupying almost 140 feet of shelf space.
Gaming policy in the United States has shifted dramatically in the last fifty years, and UNLV Libraries Special Collections’ NHPRC grant-funded project team for “America’s Great Gamble” has finished processing another collection that researchers can use to explore the ways gaming has changed in the US and abroad over that time. The Eugene Martin Christiansen Papers (MS-00561) are now fully described online and are open to researchers, who will find a wealth of information related to the legalization of gambling in the United States and around the world. Kim Manh, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Houston, has already been using the collection. He says, “This is a great collection with multiple research applications on gaming policy. I spent two days sifting through boxes of reports and barely scratched the surface of what is available. I look forward to spending many more days analyzing the information.”
Available on site at UNLV Libraries Special Collections, the Eugene Martin Christiansen Papers (dating from 1948 to 2017, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1975 to 2005) contain research files, reports, and presentations about gambling written and collected by gaming consultant Eugene Martin Christiansen. Most of the collection is comprised of research files and reports about legalized gambling, casinos, hotels, racetracks, and entertainment venues, including the economic impacts of legalized gaming, popularity of off-track betting, horse and dog racing, table games, gambling addiction, gaming regulation, taxes, lotteries, and Native American gaming. The collection includes research files covering state and municipal regulation of gaming, significant individuals in the gaming industry, prominent hotels and casinos, gaming research conferences, financial reports, and international regulation of gaming. The collection also contains a small amount of business records from Christiansen’s entertainment company Feature Film Finance & Production.
Eugene Martin Christiansen is a consultant and chairman of Christiansen Capital Advisors, LLC. He has worked as a consultant for the commercial gaming and entertainment industries since 1976. He has written extensively on gambling legalization and regulation, the economic impacts of legalized gambling, taxation of gambling and entertainment, Native American gaming, and pari-mutuel wagering. His book, The Business of Risk: Commercial Gambling in Mainstream America (co-authored with Vicki Abt and James F. Smith), was published by the University Press of Kansas in 1985. Christiansen is a member of the National Council on Problem Gambling and the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.
The project to process and make the Christiansen Papers more accessible for researchers is part of a larger initiative funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) titled “America’s Great Gamble: A Project to Promote the Discovery of Sources About the Expansion of Legalized Gambling Across the United States.” In addition to the Christiansen Papers, archivists on this project are improving the organization and descriptions of the Katherine A. Spilde Papers on Native American Gaming (1990-2015), the Gary Royer Papers on Gaming (approximately 1955-2005), and the Harrah's Entertainment Inc. Corporate Archives (1940-2000). These four collections provide primary evidence about the gaming industry as it rapidly expanded between 1970 and 2010. In the future researchers will find sources in the Spilde, Christiansen, Royer, and Harrah’s collections that explain how sociocultural, political, and economic forces shaped the US gaming industry.
Researchers interested in the Eugene Martin Christiansen Papers will find a guide to the collection online. Additionally, further information about materials found in the Christiansen Papers can be found in previous blog posts: