Eadington was graduate school in California, when he went to Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas with a brother-in-law. The trip triggered a lifelong interest in gambling economics.
In 1969, he joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, only to discover there were few books on the subject in the school's library.
He had expected to find the library "filled with scholarly tomes dedicated to the nuances of gambling," he once recalled.
He was wrong, The New York Times reported Monday.
He began the school's first course on the economics of gambling in 1972 and was the director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming.
"He arrived on campus in 1969 and, for all intents and purposes, invented the field of gambling studies. As subfields began to emerge, he had a hand in those as well," said sociologist Bo Bernhard, who is executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Eadington launched the National Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking in 1974 and all manner of interested parties showed up from economists to card sharks, from casino owners to experts on gambling addition, the Times said.
He was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the National Council on Problem Gambling, of which he was a board member and was elected to the American Gaming Association's Hall of Fame, a group that includes Merv Griffin, Debbie Reynolds, Wayne Newton and Frank Sinatra.
How can one be honored by both groups? He worked to bring varied opinions in the same room to work on an issue, the Times said.
"There is still much heated rhetoric that argues on one hand that commercial gaming is 'nothing more than a modern form of entertainment,' and on the other that it is 'one of the most pernicious evils to be thrust onto an unsuspecting public, However, the reality clearly lies between these extreme public relations positions," he once wrote.