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The Art of Watching, Listening and Learning

Adam Berger, Associate, Duane Morris LLP

The Art of Watching, Listening and Learning

As a gaming lawyer practicing in several of the largest gaming markets in the country, Adam Berger learned early on that success comes from both finding the right mentors and constantly seeking to expand one’s knowledge base.

After graduating from the George Washington University in 2007 and from Villanova University’s School of Law in 2010—both with honors—Berger worked at Fox Rothschild LLP before taking an associate position with Duane Morris LLP. Having begun practicing just four years after the birth of the gaming industry in Pennsylvania, Berger has worked on competitive bidding processes in the state.

He also has worked on successful casino bids in Massachusetts and New York, vastly expanding his knowledge base in the process. This level of exposure is true to form at Duane Morris, where young attorneys are encouraged to learn the industry. The experience Berger has gained from working there has proven invaluable. The firm spurred him to make a name for himself by attending notable conferences, by speaking on panels and by publishing articles, all tasks traditionally assigned to more senior attorneys.

As for recent industry trends, Berger has noticed a change in how casinos market to millennials. Operators have started to dedicate floor space to skill-based games, and some companies are already combining video gaming with slot machines. Berger also sees sports betting as another phenomenon that poses expansion opportunities across the country, as the gaming industry continues to await judicial or legislative action.

Says Berger about these developments, “These trends are exciting because I can relate to them. My generation grew up playing video games, so if casinos can combine video gaming with gambling, it will be a home run if done right. The challenge is finding games that are both profitable for casinos and enjoyable for patrons.”

Berger’s current role involves advising clients on emerging legislation and developments affecting the brick-and-mortar and internet gaming industries. His situation is unique in that although he is surrounded by casinos in the Philadelphia suburbs, gaming professionals in the area are few and far between.

His firms both past and present have given him outstanding opportunities, and he now pays it forward by mentoring law students and young gaming professionals. Regularly involved in Villanova University’s sports law program at the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law, Berger speaks with participating students, having been recruited as a panelist for their fantasy sports symposium last year.

“It has meant a lot to me to mentor law students and young lawyers interested in the gaming industry,” Berger says.

He tells them how he opened doors for himself, and what a terrific market and close-knit community the gaming law bar has become. He has also broadened his education by reading publications, attending the right networking events, and catching innovative webinars like those offered by Emerging Leaders of Gaming. As the current chair of the of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Casino Law Section, Berger facilitates the push to get new lawyers involved in gaming law.

To aspiring gaming lawyers, Berger recommends learning the craft and the industry. He has gained his success through reading the daily publications, learning the trends, and predicting which direction the industry is taking. “Immerse yourself in it,” he advises. “Network at conferences and learn from those above you. I have learned from watching our senior attorneys who have represented the same clients for decades, and they have a mutual trust that allows their careers the kind of longevity that I hope to accomplish.”