When you’ve spent decades in the gaming industry, 20 years is merely a blip on the radar screen. But when that time was spent on a business you started and nurtured over those 20 years, it’s quite gratifying. I have to give the vast majority of credit to others who helped guide this enterprise along the way.
Just as a recap, Global Gaming Expo was organized by the American Gaming Association, when the other major U.S. trade show, World Gaming Congress, refused to give up equity in the show to the AGA. In 2001—just after 9/11—it was held soon after WGC and wasn’t a disappointment, but given the tenor of the times, it wasn’t that exciting.
WGC was run by the company that owned the major gaming trade publication of the day, International Gaming & Wagering Business magazine. That company had also bought my previous employer, Casino Journal magazine, for the sole purpose of not permitting G2E to advertise in any U.S. gaming trade publication. And for the first year, it worked. IGWB and Casino Journal refused to accept ads from G2E and they ignored its existence.
Meanwhile, I had been hired as a consultant to G2E to help them put together a conference program, so my loyalty, obviously, was with G2E. The president and CEO of the AGA at the time, Frank Fahrenkopf, asked me to open a competing magazine, and offered a small investment to get it started. It wasn’t enough to really get the new Global Gaming Business magazine off the ground, so I went to some of my friends and colleagues and asked if they’d be interested in investing in this risky venture. To my surprise, the response I received was overwhelmingly positive. Many of our financial supporters are still close friends to this day. So on our 20th anniversary, I want to acknowledge these folks, in addition to Fahrenkopf, who took the chance on this brand new magazine: Jason Ader, Nick Casiello, Jeffery Compton, Bob Dancer, Jim Rafferty, Steve Rittvo, Dave Waddell… and my mother!
I also have to thank our advertisers. We approach each client, not just as an advertiser, but also as a partner. They have goals they want to achieve by advertising in our publications, and we want to help them reach those goals. We do all we can both in the ad space and the editorial space to get their message out. For these companies to take a leap of faith in a startup magazine was not only gratifying but it was an honor to become partners with them. Many of those companies are still around and are still supporting GGB.
We had a few quirky ideas in the beginning. The first was to publish twice a month. While on paper that seemed to be a good idea—it set us apart from our competition—it was very hard work. We committed to producing two issues per month for the first year, but after that, we realized our small staff was being taxed to the limit, and producing one issue of GGB per month was a better approach for all concerned. Moving from two publications per month to one allowed us to launch GGB News, our weekly e-newsmagazine. The industry was evolving and GGB needed to offer an online feed to quench the thirst of those who couldn’t wait a month for their industry news.
A second idea continues to this day—to put together three “annual” publications that would cover specific areas of the industry once a year. G2E Preview (now called Progressive Products Preview—P3) gives attendees and exhibitors a sneak peek at the upcoming G2E. Tribal Government Gaming is a deep dive into the complex issues of Indian gaming and is issued every spring in time for the (N)IGA tradeshow. And Casino Design (now called Casino Style) was originally focused on the design and construction of casino properties but now has expanded to all the non-gaming aspects of a casino resort.
Through the years we produced groundbreaking conferences such as Racino, devoted to the burgeoning slots-at-racetracks phenomenon of the ’90s and 2000s; Casino Design, which recognized the art and science of casino construction and featured the Sarno Awards, which recognized excellence in the field; and most recently, the UNLV Gaming & Hospitality Education Series, which tried to elevate gaming education to the next level.
I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t mention our editorial advisory board, who you can see to the right of this column, and my excellent staff, in the same place. We’ve had two terrific sales directors, the retired David Coheen and now Terri Brady, who you all know and love. Frank Legato, who is the world’s foremost expert on gaming machines, has been with us since the first issue of GGB was published and recently told me this is the longest he’s ever worked for one company. Hey, me too! And Becky Kingman-Gros, my wife and partner, who runs the entire company and is ultimately responsible for the success that we’ve achieved.
And to you, our readers. You’re the reason we do what we do and we’re grateful for your comments, contributions and encouragement in all our magazines and online publications. Thank you for being there!