The Wall Street Journal has always been an important publication for the gaming industry. In the days when gaming was going “public,” the newspaper legitimatized the business because it was making real money for investors and the less-desirable elements of the industry were disappearing.
So the reporters who cover gaming make an impact in the investment community by their coverage. Many writers assigned to this beat have gone on to bigger and better things, inside and outside the gaming industry. But writing for the Wall Street Journal also demands a responsibility and accuracy that is a cut above your average publication.
Kathryn (Kate) O’Keeffe is now the reporter for the newspaper covering the industry worldwide, after making a name for herself covering the Macau casino industry. Based in Asia her entire career, O’Keeffe moved to Hong Kong in 2010 to cover regulatory matters in Hong Kong and Macau for the Journal’s sister brand, Dow Jones Newswires, and soon thereafter, for the main publication. Gaming was obviously a big part of the beat, and quickly took over. Last year, she was named global gaming reporter. Most publications cover the industry primarily from the U.S., but O’Keeffe is undoubtedly the only one to cover the worldwide industry from Asia.
She says the location can be challenging, but she works with reporters all over the world.
“I look to collaborate with colleagues in other countries whenever I can,” she says. “I have worked on casino stories with fellow Wall Street Journal reporters based everywhere from Tokyo to New York and many cities in between. Since I took over global coverage of the gambling industry, I am also trying to make at least a couple trips to Las Vegas per year.”
One of the bumps in the road came when LV Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson sued O’Keeffe for libel. While she can’t comment on the litigation, she insists she goes to great lengths to get it right.
“The Wall Street Journal has very exacting standards,” she says, “but I would feel the same responsibility to get it right no matter where I worked. I take forever to file stories because I read them over so many times and triple-check facts.”
As for Macau, the convoluted nature of regulations and business arrangements makes it a difficult place to report, she explains.
“It’s precisely because Macau is less transparent than some other jurisdictions that I feel I can really add value reporting on it,” she says. “My philosophy from day one has always been to focus on the long term. I have spent years cultivating certain sources. It’s funny, though—the more I learn about Macau, the more I realize how much more there is to learn.”
O’Keeffe isn’t the most beloved reporter covering gaming. Her search for the truth often ruffles a few gaming feathers, but if anyone is expecting her to depart for greener pastures, dream on.
“I love writing about the gambling industry,” she says. “It is so exciting and full of dynamic characters. It’s hard to think of a topic I’d enjoy covering as much. I was actually trying to think of one the other day… maybe intelligence or baby animals.”