Early last month, I found out that the main competitor to GGB in the U.S., Casino Journal, has gone out of business with the publication of its December issue. Some might assume I should be happy, or at least hopeful, but I’m definitely not. It’s like losing someone with whom you had a complicated relationship, but it still was someone who played a big role in your life.
First of all, competition makes us all better. When we started Global Gaming Business in 2002, there were already three major U.S. gaming trade publications. To get accepted and earn the trust of the industry, we had to be better than all of them. Even once we emerged as the leading trade publication in gaming, we had to stay on our game to make sure that we stayed in front. Without any U.S. competitors in the commercial gaming field now, however, we will not relent. The fact that there are several European magazines with eyes on the U.S. will keep us on top of our game. We will continue to strive for excellence.
Secondly, I mourn for the journalists who lost their jobs in this closure. This is a small community, gaming journalists. We all know each other and understand how difficult this business is. We see each other at trade shows and press conferences, and we all commiserate about the realities of our business. So I sincerely hope that good guys like Charles Anderer and Paul Doocey will land on their feet.
And finally, I was one of the founders of Casino Journal, along with the late Glenn Fine and his brother Adam, also deceased. To say it was a labor of love in the early days is to underestimate the commitment we all had to the success of the magazine and the entire enterprise. Along with Lisa Robertson Dziedzic, Frank Legato, and many others, we were a solid team who punched above our weight class. We also founded Casino Player Publishing in 1988 and got into the B2C space with Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazines. Lisa still owns those publications, which are also the only two B2C gaming magazines left in existence.
We entered the conference business and became a very successful meetings organization. We went public with an IPO for a while, but even that didn’t stop us until Glenn sold the B2B Casino Journal to our main competitor at that time, IGWB magazine. IGWB had been founded by trade magazine publisher Irv Babson, Howard Jay Klein, one of the best business minds in the casino business, and Gary Selesner, now Caesars Palace CEO. I left Casino Journal when the sale was made to work as a consultant for the new trade show, Global Gaming Expo. IGWB made the purchase to assure that Casino Journal would not take advertising from G2E to protect their own gaming trade show, the World Gaming Congress. It was all for naught, however, as the WGC hung on for only a year or two after that.
When Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association at that time, asked me to start a new publication for the AGA and G2E, I jumped at the chance. But Casino Journal was always out there pushing us to be better. When the new owners of Casino Journal folded IGWB and kept Casino Journal, I was happy that my original magazine was still in existence, but curious about why they didn’t keep the brand of IGWB. It certainly was the brand everyone trusted, so the reason for the decision to scrap it always eluded me. Along with the demise of Casino Journal, the last whispers of IGWB disappear as well.
So there, in a nutshell, is the history of gaming publications—both trade and consumer—in America.
Now that the pandemic has devastated the gaming publication field, we feel like survivors, battered and bashed, but still swinging. It’s been a tough year, and sad to see it end with the demise of Casino Journal. At GGB, we will redouble our commitment to reporting on the important news of the gaming industry on a daily basis.