Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 | 5:44 a.m.
Jeff Simpson, one of the most respected reporters on the gaming industry, died Saturday of complications from emergency heart surgery. He was 51.
Simpson, a former business editor at the Las Vegas Sun and In Business Las Vegas, the predecessor of Vegas Inc, wrote for the Two Way Hard Three blog on the casino industry and was a member of the “Vegas Gang,” a podcast that discusses gaming topics. All are affiliated with ratevegas.com, which he joined in June 2010.
Simpson moved to Las Vegas from Florida in 1999 and was a business reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, taking on the gaming beat. He left the Review-Journal for the Sun in 2004, writing a business column and editorials for its business weekly, In Business Las Vegas. He won awards for his reporting and writing while at both newspapers.
He also made regular appearances on “Nevada Week in Review,” Las Vegas public broadcast television show on state issues, and on KNPR’s “State of Nevada” radio show.
A statement from Simpson’s family said his biggest passion in life was the gaming industry.
“As an editor and reporter covering Las Vegas gaming for over a decade, he truly loved learning the secrets and intricacies of the business from people like Steve Wynn, Michael Gaughan and Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta,” the statement said.
Simpson frequently spoke with Wynn and broke several stories because of that relationship. One of his career highlights was covering the opening of the Wynn Macau in 2006.
But not everyone in the industry was enamored with Simpson. He was sued twice by Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson for a column he wrote about how he didn’t expect Adelson to be able to get a gaming license in Singapore. Adelson got the license and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore today is one of the most successful casino resort properties in the world. Both lawsuits were dismissed.
Simpson was an avid poker player and had aspirations to play someday in the World Series of Poker, an event he frequently covered. He also enjoyed playing craps and was an avid fan of Cleveland sports teams, having grown up in Olmstead Falls, Ohio, and receiving a degree in history from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.
Simpson is survived by his girlfriend of seven years, Jazmin Casing; his brother Jon Simpson; father, Robert Simpson, and four nieces.
The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to his favorite charity, the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The family is planning a private ceremony.