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Horsing Around with the Odds

November 9, 2023
Six horses racing at churchill downs on grass.

With a purse of knowledge and decades of research and publications concerning the equine industry, economics, and public policy, it’s a safe bet that Dr. Thomas Lambert is a subject matter expert. We recently discussed with Lambert how his interest in these fields began and the track that led him to his career in the College of Business at the University of Louisville.

College of Business: Could you tell our readers about your background?

Thomas Lambert: I am originally from Louisville and attended Bishop David High School (now Holy Cross High School). I have a BA in Political Science, an MS in Economics from the University of Kentucky, [and] an MBA and PhD in Urban and Public Affairs from UofL. I have taught many different courses in economics and public administration over the years and have also done research and publishing in these areas. Besides UofL, I have taught full-time at Northern Kentucky University and Indiana University Southeast and part-time at IU and Purdue University at Columbus and Simmons College of Kentucky. 

College of Business: How did you develop an interest in economics and the equine industry?

Thomas Lambert: I have been teaching economics and business statistics for several decades now. Around 14 years or so ago, I started doing research on gambling and casinos and racinos (a racino is a combo of a horse racetrack and casino joined together at the same location) and how these impacted local economic development and local economies. I found racinos to be the most productive and efficient establishments when compared to stand-alone casinos or tracks. When my predecessor left for another position, the Dean asked me if I would be interested in taking his place since I was looking for additional assignments in addition to the Lecturer position that I had at that time with the Department of Economics at the College of Business. My research on gambling and gaming appeared to fit well with the Equine Department, so I decided to apply for the position. I have a joint appointment with both departments. If time [allows], I still do research in urban economics and economic history.    

College of Business: How did you develop an interest in teaching, and how did that evolve into your current role at the College of Business?

Thomas Lambert: My career in teaching developed somewhat unplanned. I applied for a part-time teaching position with what was called the Preparatory Division at UofL decades ago and taught remedial classes for them while I was working on my MBA at UofL. I thought the job would be better than the one I had at the time and would also be convenient for my studies since I had to be on campus a few days during the week anyway. It turned out to be more than a job to get me through school and to pay bills. I really enjoyed and loved it and felt a great deal of satisfaction. It inspired me to continue my studies, which would later inspire me to earn a doctorate degree. I had always had an interest in economics, economic development, and public policy, so [I] pursued studies in these so that I could do research in these areas and try to make a contribution to these fields. Teaching allows me to share my research with students.My interest in gaming and local economic development, and the economic impact of gaming on local economies, has fit well with the Equine and Economics Departments at the College of Business.   

College of Business: What are some of the courses you teach most often, and why do you enjoy educating students on those topics?

Thomas Lambert: I have mostly taught business statistics, equine economics, equine and sports analytics, and equine capstone courses over the last few years. I have also taught macroeconomics for the Department of Economics. I truly enjoy helping students achieve their educational goals and helping them learn more about their chosen professions or about our society. I think these are important for their development.

College of Business: What are some of the greatest lessons you have learned in your role as a professor?

Thomas Lambert: Learning to be patient with other people is important, as well as trying to cover all sides of an issue or profession to help our students learn as much as possible. It’s important to try to see and respect all sides and views of an issue. 

College of Business: What do you enjoy most about teaching at the College of Business?

Thomas Lambert: We have wonderful support from our administration when it comes to teaching, especially when it comes to technology, classroom facilities, and opportunities to work with professionals at the Delphi Center. We have administrators at the CoB who are truly concerned about the faculty and students. I also work with an excellent group of fellow faculty members who provide a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment in which to work. These factors are a big help and provide positive motivation.  

College of Business: Which of your research project(s) or paper(s) do you consider the most significant throughout your career, and why?

Thomas Lambert: There are several areas. My papers on gambling, innovation, emergency services, and economic history have had some citations and have been used in other research. Some of these have been referenced in the popular press, or I have been interviewed by members of the popular press on some of these.  Most of all, I have been able to use these papers in my classes, and I think/hope that the insights from them have been useful and beneficial to students.

College of Business: What aspects of research and publishing do you most enjoy?

Thomas Lambert: Doing research, in my opinion, allows one to make a contribution to her/his field of study, and this is something encouraged in every discipline in order to advance and improve. This is important to all academic fields. Being able to share my research with students in the classroom and with my peers at conferences is enjoyable and rewarding. One also learns even more from his/her discipline as one does research, and this is very rewarding as well. I also try to disseminate some of my research results through a local radio show, Economic Impact, which addresses mostly local economic issues in the Louisville area, [and] is not part of my duties for the CoB or UofL [but is] something done on a volunteer basis.

College of Business: Your research has covered a wide range of topics – what motivated you to explore such diverse areas in your work?

Thomas Lambert: I have diverse interests and enjoy the challenge of working on this wide range of topics. Economics and public policy cover many diverse topics and issues as well.

College of Business: What projects are you currently working on that are particularly impactful?

Thomas Lambert: I am currently studying the impact of fixed odds wagering on horse racing. Currently, in the US, pari-mutuel wagering is the dominant, if not almost entirely exclusive, form of horse racing wagering in the US. If fixed odds are allowed to take root and expand in the US, then a variety of impacts will occur with its arrival. I am also still doing studies on competition [in] sports, horse racing, casinos, and lottery gambling. My other area of current research is on long-wave economic cycles in the US and their possible political effects…I work on this as time permits. 

College of Business: What else do you hope to accomplish professionally?

Thomas Lambert: I am still considering doing a book someday. I just need the time to write one.

College of Business: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Thomas Lambert: I am truly grateful and honored to be part of the faculty at the CoB. Again, we have wonderful administrative and collegial support, which helps us to thrive as faculty. I think we have a positive impact on students’ lives, and this is truly wonderful for us as well as the Louisville area community.

About the UofL College of Business:

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