It is with much sadness that we must report the passing of John Romero, renowned casino market expert and long-time columnist for International Gaming & Wagering Business (IGWB) magazine, in Colorado Springs, Colo., on April 30.

Romero’s entrée into the casino space took place in 1960, when he took an executive position at Del Webb’s Sahara on the Las Vegas Strip after a 10-year career as a sports editor and columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a stint in the Navy during the Korean War. As marketing director of the Sahara, he pioneered one-to-one direct mail marketing practices for gaming operations and a table game tournament format that eventually spread to hundreds of casinos across the U.S.

Romero formed International Gaming Promotions (IGP) and left Sahara in 1979. In 1986, he and his IGP partners co-founded Players International, which operated riverboat casinos and racetracks and is probably best remembered for its Player’s Club loyalty concept that enlisted Telly Savalas as its spokesperson in a series of television commercials.   

Romero soon left Players International to form his own company, John Romero Direct Marketing, which supplied direct mail and response advertising services for a number of casinos. He also began writing a monthly column on marketing for IGWB and wrote two very successful books on marketing for gaming facilities: Casino Marketing and Secrets of Casino Marketing.

In 2004, Romero received the inaugural Casino Marketing Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given out each year at the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference. Recently, this trade show created the Romero Awards, which recognize excellence in casino marketing. Romero chaired the panel of experts judging the contest and presented awards personally at a banquet at the event.

 Romero is survived by his wife, three sons and numerous grandchildren. He was buried with military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona. Memorial donations can be made to Children’s Diabetes Foundation at Denver and Fisher House Foundation.