Farewell From Howard Barish

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“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”   

As far as I’m concerned, this Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) quote can never be overused. The message is so powerful, philosophical, and yet full of common sense. 

What has felt like 10 yearhas truly been a memorable 30 months. 

My first acknowledgement of gratitude is for my good friend Tom Jingoli, Executive Vice President & COO at Konami Gaming. Upon learning of Bill Paulos’ acquisition of Gaming Today, Tom reached out to me and in his occasional coy manner said, “I may have something of interest for you.” 

I had recently finished up a 25-year career in the restaurant business working side by side with my father. We had a most memorable run. Our primary locations were located within casinos, and several adjacent to sportsbooks. Many of you may remember the Stage Delis in MGM Grand, Bally’s and the Forum Shoppes at Caesars. Ironically this would become the impetus for my tenure at Gaming Today. 

With regard to the aforementioned Mr. Paulos, a limit on word count and real estate in the print edition preclude me from all that I’d like to convey.  At the urging of Jingoli, Bill and I met regarding his new acquisition. His intentions for GT were two-fold.  

First, the repeal of PASPA (Supreme Court ruling ending the virtual Nevada monopoly on sports betting) three months earlier presented an opportunity to nationally scale a local, yet ultra-niche publication. 

Second, Bill owns an established digital marketing company called Engaged Nation.  The intent was to exploit synergies between the two companies. In a satisfying twist, we had begun to see the fruits of that intention recently materialize.

After a few discussions, Bill offered me the position of General Manager-Managing Editor. Given that I didn’t have a background in media, I was grateful that he was betting on me based on other attributes, namely the relationship network established in my first career along with a high energy approach.

For the tens of thousands who have had the privilege of working with Bill Paulos not only in Nevada, but from Michigan to Melbourne, they can tell us his mantra is literally “Let’s f’n go!” This man has boundless energy and it most certainly trickles down the ranks of the organization. 

What amazed me each day was that despite a phenomenally successfuand long career in the casino business (you can look that up), Bill Paulos still loves working with people. This and his fierce loyalty to me and our staff are the traits I’ll most remember. Thanks for your faith in our team.

Speaking of our staff, my words in this column won’t do justice as to how I valued our time together. I most certainly will speak to each of you personally and express my gratitude. 

It’s become so cliché by sports commentators and journalists to use the term, “buying in.” This player bought in or a team buys into a coaching philosophy. When we took over the operation at GT, Steve Carp, our senior editor, and I literally turned the place upside down. It was imperative that our team “bought-in.” It wasn’t always pleasant, but what’s easy when you’ve got lofty goals? 

We started with the print publication and completely revamped its look and style. This included the eventual phasing out of the “Page 3 girl.”  For those that don’t know this component of GT, it was a young gal in scantily clad bikini. The caption might read, “When she isn’t modeling, Ginger is a UNLV student by day and a part-time cocktail waitress at The Continental by night.” We believed that segment had run its course especially when we intended to grow the publication in other states. 

There were certainly phone calls and hate mail. My response was always “Sir, I can definitely recommend a few websites where you can find this type of content.” That always ended the conversation.

From there we tackled the future — the GT website. And with that comes another cliché that’s overused these days. It had “great bones” as people sometimes refer to buildings. But it really did have a solid foundation. 

A Don Best ticker provided scores and real-time lines from six Vegas sportsbooks.  The archive section was easy to navigate and there was a great area to view the actual newspapers in PDF form. The challenge was that it still reflected a weekly publication, not a 24/7 news and informational site. 

This had to change, especially with the proliferation of sports betting and associated news from around the country. I’m most proud of our adaptation of the website while only adding one extra staff member. And with Mr. Paulos’ urging, the website vastly improved at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. It was quite a transition and yes, the team bought in. 

Best wishes to new GamingToday.com owner Kendall Saville and his team at i15 Media. Thanks for identifying and continuing an iconic name in sports betting media. 

To our group of independent writers, many of whom I’ve never met in person because you’re geographically scattered — a heartfelt thanks. The reality of 21st Century journalism is certainly more challenging than yesteryear. But your labor of love always showed up in the work.

Special thanks to Eileen DiRocco, former publisher of Gaming Today. She and late husband Chuck created what was then the Sports Form in 1976. They were pioneers in sports betting and casino industry journalism. 

I would also like to thank Jerry Epstein and Michael Paulos along with their team at Engaged Nation. We shared a building and these folks got to witness chaos on Tuesday’s, our publishing day. Additional thanks to Mr. Paulos’ longtime administrative assistant Diana Degarimore for her operational support.

And last but certainly not least, our advertising partners, subscribers, and readers. Plain and simple, you were the reason we poured ourselves into the work at GT. Thanks for your trust and loyalty.

Onward and upward.

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