Dave Palermo was a consummate journalist and an amazing storyteller By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports July 31, 2019 at 7:00 pm Long before Dave Palermo earned his place as one of the most knowledgeable gaming journalists in the country, he made his mark in Southern California as a reporter with the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. I learned about his reputation from one of the best – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston. In 1990, when I was covering Nevada’s gaming industry for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Johnston was covering Atlantic City for the Philadelphia Inquirer. I offered him my files when he was researching his 1992 book Temples of Chance, about the emergence of corporate American into gaming. Palermo was then on the labor beat for the Review-Journal. A 2016 photo from Dave Palermo’s Facebook page of the journalist hiking Red Rock Canyon Sitting in the newsroom, Johnston and Palermo reconnected. They’d been competitors in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, Palermo with the Herald Examiner and Johnston with the Los Angeles Times. On this day, they swapped several memories of stories they’d broken. Later, when Johnston and I went out to lunch, he confided in me that Palermo had often scooped him. Johnston also told me how much he admired Palermo’s work. We all admired Dave Palermo’s work. And we’re all sad that his voice has been silenced. Dave Palermo took his own life last Friday. He was 71 and seemed to be recovering from several health issues; one of his last Facebook posts was titled “Road to Recovery” and included a couple of photos from a pair of six-mile hikes he recently took at Mount Charleston. I’m not going to speculate on his reasons. Like many of his friends and colleagues, we’re going to miss a brilliant journalist and an amazing storyteller. Despite his curmudgeonly exterior, Palermo cared deeply about the stories and the people he wrote about. He also cared about other journalists and wanted us to improve. He was a mentor and a valuable resource, and, as many can attest, if you were a friend, you were a friend for life. He celebrated our accomplishments. I received a one sentence email from Palermo in July about my profile of Oklahoma’s Chickasaw Nation. “Nice piece,” he wrote. Phone calls with Dave about story ideas and topics were never very lengthy. He’d call, I’d answer, he’d say, “Palermo here,” and we would get into the subject. As his dear friend Natalie Burt pointed out this week, Palermo was a newsman with a passion for journalism. He worked for 13 newspapers in 33 years. Palermo loved covering the gaming industry – first in Las Vegas, as the Strip was in the midst of massive expansion, and then in Biloxi, Mississippi, just as the Gulf Coast casino market was taking off in the 1990s. He was one of the first casino-industry specific journalists at the Biloxi Sun-Herald. Eventually, Palermo returned to Las Vegas and fell in love with the expanding Indian gaming industry. He wrote in depth about all the issues surrounding Indian gaming, earning respect from tribal leaders, regulators and gaming executives throughout the industry with his knowledgeable and thorough reporting. Last year, in one of his many articles for Global Gaming Business, Palermo focused on how tribes weren’t taking advantage of the media opportunities presented to them. He wanted tribes to tell their success stories and promote their own interests. Like all good journalists, he knew the background, reported the facts, and told the whole story. Palermo kept his connections to the Gulf Coast, too. His “Gumbo Boogies” in Las Vegas would often include gumbo flown in from Mary Mahoney’s in Biloxi. The outpouring of tributes this week regarding his loss stretched from Las Vegas through Indian Country and down to the Gulf Coast. The tone of them has been both emotional and loving. Global Gaming Business Publisher Roger Gros wrote, “if I could tell Dave one more thing, it would be this: Dave Palermo, you made a difference in this world, and your life was worth living.” Jacob Mejia, vice president of public and external affairs for Southern California’s Pechanga Tribe, said on Twitter that Palermo “genuinely cared about journalism, Indian Country, and (the) gaming industry. He was a true gentleman and (a) helluva old-school reporter.” Mary Cracchiolo Spain, the longtime public relations director for Beau Rivage in Biloxi, wrote on Facebook, “My heart is heavy knowing we lost one of the nicest, smartest and most compassionate icons in the gaming industry. Dave Palermo was a fantastic writer and did more for educating this Coast about the gaming industry than just about anyone.” I think Natalie Burt, who was his friend for three decades, said it best when she described Palermo as a “raconteur.” He could turn any story into an entertaining yarn. What I wouldn’t give for one more “Palermo here” phone call. Donations in Dave Palermo’s memory may be made to the Hopi Education Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 605, Kykotsmovi, Arizona, 86039. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.