My name is Dave Schwartz. This is my website, but you probably figured that out. If you knew me, you’d know that I sometimes say stupid, obvious things like that, mostly because I can’t think of anything witty and want to give you a reason to laugh. What else would you like to know about me?
I have a few jobs, three main ones. I direct the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, teach history there, and write for Vegas Seven magazine, CDC Gaming Reports, and a few other places. Books, too–don’t forget the books.
Right now I have three main research interests: gambling and casinos, competitive video gaming, and professional wrestling. There’s a few connections between them, even if it isn’t always obvious. I also write about Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
I was born in and grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which has always been a punchline, although the joke has gotten more cutting lately. I went to Atlantic City High School and worked a lot of jobs around town. Some of my favorites were Mr. Peanut, cleaning the beach for the City of Ventnor City, night shift desk clerk, dishwasher, ice cream scooper, janitorial scientist, casino security officer, and, later, surveillance (it’s two separate departments). I worked in three casinos: Bally’s Grand, the Tropicana, and the Trump Taj Mahal. Two of them are closed now. That tells you a lot about Atlantic City, doesn’t it?
Then I went to college, where I got a BA (History and Anthropology) and MA (American History) from the University of Pennsylvania. After that, it was grad school in United States History at UCLA. I worked some more jobs there–a few favorites are museum security officer, arena event staff, graduate researcher, and SAT prep teacher. I got my Ph.D. in U.S. History from there in 2000, so when people want me to think I’m important they call me “Dr. Schwartz” even though I can’t heal the sick. I got the nickname “Doctor Dave” from the Vegas Internet Mafia so that’s what most of my social media handles are. It usually leads to disappointment (the first of many) when I explain to people that I cannot, in fact, provide medical care or advice (outside of “yeah, put some ice on that”).
Outside of my three (ish) jobs, I spend most of my time with my kids doing regular dad stuff and trying to maintain a middle class lifestyle. I also like staying in shape and playing video games. I’m really bad at most FPS, and I prefer turn-based strategy games like Civilization. But I don’t have a ton of free time, so I’m nowhere near to legit beating it on Deity.
I love writing so I do a lot of it. I have a whole writing page that’s all about it, so check it out. It tells you where you can read my work and what awards I’ve won for it.
If you’re more instant gratification than that, here are some links to my books:
- Tales from the Pit: Casino Table Games Managers in Their Own Words pulls together excerpts from a series of interviews with lifelong casino professionals, capturing the challenges and changes in casino management.
- Boardwalk Playground: The Making, Unmaking, and Remaking of Atlantic City tells the story of how the Jersey Shore resort has survived as a destination resort for more than 150 years.
- Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas tells the true story of Jay Sarno, the casino impresario who built Caesars Palace and Circus Circus, changing Las Vegas forever.
- Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling tells the story of gambling from its origins to the 21st century. The currently-available Casino Edition, released in early 2013, features new material about the gaming industry’s wild ride since 2005, and its expansion into Asia and online.
- Cutting the Wire: Gaming Prohibition and the Internet explores the long legal battle over remote gambling that culminated in 1961’s Wire Act and explores the impact of that battle on advent of Internet gambling since the 1990s.
- Suburban Xanadu: The Casino Resort on the Las Vegas Resort and Beyond traces the development of the modern casino resort as an adaptation to the conditions of postwar Las Vegas.
- I edited and contributed a chapter to Frontiers in Chance: Gaming Research Across the Disciplines, a collection of essays culled from the Occasional Paper Series of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV.
- With Pauliina Raento, I edited Gambling, Space, and Time: Shifting Boundaries and Cultures, a collection of essays exploring manifestations of gambling across the world.
If you’re really instant gratification, you can buy these books from my humble Amazon store.
This is the other thing I love doing. Right now I’m a part time instructor for UNLV’s Department of History, with three courses in the rotation: HIS 101, the US from colonization to 1877; HIS 102, the US from 1877 to today, and HIS 369, the history of casinos. I also teach seminars for the Honors College: my favorites are “Faces of Las Vegas” and non-fiction writing. I’ve taught a range of other classes, from SAT prep to hospitality management, in a variety of settings. My personal favorite is the short-lived Fairleigh Dickinson University Atlantic City extension in the Ocean One mall (now the Playground). It was surreal to be teaching like a responsible adult in the same place where I used to play arcade games.
In addition to my teaching at UNLV I do seminars and instruction for people in the casino industry and those who want to learn more about it. I can handle any group size and any duration, from an hour quickie intro to a weeks-long in-depth course. I mostly cover the history of casinos in Las Vegas and other places and the current state of the industry, but can customize talks or courses on a variety of topics.
I encourage you to learn more on my teaching page.
This overlaps a little with teaching. People ask my opinion about things, mostly having to do with casinos, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and related stuff.
At my day job I get many, many media inquiries–usually about 300 a year but it’s often more than that. I’ve been quoted by writers for the Associated Press, UPI, Reuters, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Wired, Congressional Quarterly Weekly, Indianapolis Star, Philadelphia Inquirer, New Orleans Times-Picayune, International Gaming and Wagering Business, Player, San Francisco Chronicle, Crane’s Business, Los Angeles Times, Reno Gazette Journal, Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and many other newspapers and magazines.
Someone once thought it would be good to put me on TV, and others followed, so I’ve appeared in news stories about Las Vegas and gaming on CNN, CNBC, Speigel TV (Germany), Court TV, National Public Radio’s Marketplace, The Savvy Traveler, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition, CBC Radio, Swiss National Radio, CNN Radio, and on local news programs in Las Vegas, San Diego, Philadelphia, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and New York City. I’m also a member of the Vegas Gang podcast.
I’ve also been in several documentaries, including “Ten Things You Don’t Know About Las Vegas,” “All In: the Poker Movie,” “Secrets of the Palms,” “Secrets of New York New York,” “Vegas Whales Tales” (Travel Channel); “The History of Poker,” “Modern Marvels: Casino Technology,” and “Anything to Win” (History Channel). My personal favorite as “Ten Things” because I was a huge Henry Rollins fan as a kid. I got to meet him and he was totally thoughtful and cool.
I’ve also been an off-screen, usually uncredited, consultant for these and several other programs. If people want advice from someone with no training in film or TV production, I’m happy to oblige.
You can get all that for free, but if you’d like me to show up and speak with your group, hey, I can do that too. I have a few talks that are especially popular: “Seven Things You Should Know about Casinos” is great for a general conference audience in Las Vegas, and “How Bugsy Blew It: Leadership Lessons from a Las Vegas Legend” is a good management/leadership/motivational talk for business groups. I’ve recently talked about topics ranging from frontline casino risk management to the history of Las Vegas architecture. I can put together pretty much anything (within reason) for any size group.
You can learn more on the Talking page.
You Tube channel: DoctorDave702
Facebook: David G. Schwartz, writer
Linked In: DavidGSchwartz
I sometimes comment on Reddit as “grandissimo.” Mostly I lurk there.