Chuck Di Rocco honored by AGA

Sep 24, 2002 8:12 AM

   GamingToday publisher Chuck Di Rocco was honored last week at the G2E convention for his pioneering efforts in producing the “bible” of the gaming industry, GamingToday.

   Di Rocco was selected by the American Gaming Association (AGA) as the recipient of its Gaming Voice for Lifetime Achievement award, which was presented at the AGA Communications Awards Luncheon on Thursday.

   In making the presentation, AGA President Frank J. Fahrenkopf, cited Di Rocco’s “contributions to gaming through comprehensive media coverage of the industry and other achievements.”

   In accepting the award, Di Rocco said he was both “gratified and humbled” by the honor.

   “This is quite an honor, especially coming from an organization like the AGA, which represents the entire gaming industry,” Di Rocco said. “I am most grateful and appreciative, especially for Frank’s kind and generous comments.”

   Fahrenkopf added that Di Rocco has always been “ahead of the curve,” even before he undertook publishing a gaming newspaper in the mid 1970s.

   “As a young lawyer in Reno, Chuck asked me to help him with a new idea of his, simulcasting horse races,” Fahrenkopf said. “The concept was ahead of its time and it had merit, but I was shuffled off to Washington when Ronald Reagan took office.”

   Indeed, simulcasting was eventually approved and implemented in the state’s race books, and it remains the cornerstone of the entire pari-mutuel industry in Nevada. On a national level, simulcasting has kept racing for the past 15 years.

   At about the same time, Di Rocco, a former newspaper journalist and public relations executive, founded Sports Form, the predecessor to GamingToday, in 1976.

   “At the time, I was a newcomer to Las Vegas and, quite frankly, never expected to sink roots here,” Di Rocco recalled. “But there was definitely a need for a publication like ours, so we scraped together what could be loosely called a staff and began turning out the paper.”

   Following a motto of “News You Can Bet On,” Sports Form was staffed by a variety of professional handicappers, bookmakers and columnists, who presented a wide range of information for sports bettors, as well as Las Vegas news and entertainment.

   The publication was expanded to include other gaming news, including its pioneering coverage of high-stakes poker, blackjack, craps and other casino games, keno and slot games.

   Its field of coverage also includes industry news, including the latest developments in slot manufacturing, building and development, regulatory issues and gaming stock analysis.

   In addition to its pioneering coverage, GamingToday has been the springboard for many pioneering writers and columnists. Huey Mahl’s analysis of games and gaming are as timely and relevant today as they were 15 years ago, and the insights that Lenny Frome offered about video poker and other topics have evolved into tenets that are adhered to years after his passing.

   Di Rocco said producing a top-quality newspaper for the gaming industry has always been his lifelong goal.

   “Admittedly, GamingToday is not a mainstream newspaper,” Di Rocco said. “The weekly newspaper is by design a niche publication that endeavors to balance its coverage of the gaming industry with news for the consumer.

   “Toward that end, I believe we have been successful-we have a large percentage of loyal readers on ”˜both sides of the table.”

   A recent reader survey confirmed the newspaper’s fiercely loyal constituency. Half the readers have been reading GamingToday for five years and more, while 71% have been reading the newspaper for at least three years.

   Moreover, about 99% of readers indicated they were “extremely satisfied” and “mostly satisfied” with GamingToday.

   “Those figures are probably the most gratifying,” Di Rocco said. “While we’ve always tried to support the industry that has supported us, it is most gratifying to know that the readers appreciate what we’ve been doing.

   “After all, that’s why we’re here.”