Farewell, Our Friend: Remembering Rich Fiore

News of the unexpected death of Richard Fiore unsettled the team here at CEM, as it surely did everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him in the casino industry or not. As the latter half of the Acres-Fiore team, Fiore was a notable contributor to our CasinoFest events, and we will miss his presence not only as a speaker but as a respected creative force and friend.

Fiore passed away in his home on Nov. 27, 2009, at the young age of 50.

Fiore was born in Ohio and attended high school in Las Vegas and college in California. His began his career as a junior artist with slot manufacturing giant IGT, working up to senior designer. He is credited with developing the well-known Megabucks design and the first slant-top machine. In 1992, he helped found Las Vegas’ Idea Center, where he acted as art director and created a printing method for slot machine glass. Two years later, he joined Mikohn Gaming Corporation, followed by starting Richard Fiore & Associates. He then served as president of the Sierra Design Group, where he was honored as the 2003 Nevada Businessman of the Year by the U.S. Congressional Committee. He was awarded a Nevada gaming license this September.

John Acres, Fiore’s business partner and friend, perhaps knows better than any what the loss of Rich Fiore means to the industry, as well as to those who knew him best.

Acres met Fiore through Bob Luciano, when Luciano was working with Bally and Acres was doing some projects with the company. This meeting ultimately led to the creation of Acres-Fiore, a game design partnership in which, according to Acres, Fiore contributed “art and chaos.”

Avoiding the hyperbole of eulogies, Acres prefers to remember his friend as a complete, nuanced person. “Rich Fiore was a great guy—very difficult sometimes, as good people are,” he said. “Rich had deep-seated insecurities that were obvious to anybody that knew him well. And the impressive thing with Rich is how he not only overcame those insecurities but used them to his advantage.”

In fact, those “insecurities” led to some of Fiore’s very best work—work that Fiore wasn’t afraid to refine and refine again until he deemed it perfect. “When we first got started together, we were working on a game—Halo—and had already spent a couple hundred thousand dollars,” Acres recalled. “We got everything done at the manufacturer’s and were getting it delivered to our location. We cleared off a big room to put it in our office, which was fairly small. As we started setting up, Rich says, ‘No, we can’t do this.’

“I asked why, and he says, ‘The background wall is the wrong color.’ It was this plain old white.

“ ‘It needs to be a brown,’ Rich said. And so we had to stop everything, and Rich went out and bought a gallon of paint and came back and painted the wall.

“Three hours later, we’re ready and he stops everybody again and he says, ‘Here’s the problem. You can see the wall in your office, and we’re going to have to paint that too.’

“And so by the end of the day, my office was repainted,” Acres laughed.

Acres also said Fiore was the most caring friend a person could hope for, always following the Golden Rule and treating people the way that he would want to be treated. When Luciano had a stroke, Fiore was at the hospital doorstep. And when Fiore and Acres found out that Luciano would have some paralysis and difficulty reading, Fiore went to the Apple store and bought the biggest computer monitor available and a speech-recognition system. “He wanted Bob to be able to hear and see words again,” Acres said. “He just would go so far past what anyone else would do. The guy was incredible that way.”

Industry contributions aside, Acres said if we asked Fiore what his biggest accomplishment was, Fiore would say his family—his wife, Loraine, and their two children, Madison and Talyn. Fiore was always talking about his kids. In fact, he served as coach of his son’s lacrosse team and led them to two state titles. He even took this new passion for lacrosse to a professional level, working to create an event for the sport similar to the X-Games as chairman of the board at LXM Pro. He even was the executive producer of Crooked Arrows, a lacrosse-themed movie.

According to Acres, some people are remembered because what they did was separated from everything else, but he thinks Fiore’s memory will survive in another way. “Rich was an influencer,” he explained. “And influence is really hard to separate out. I think those of us who knew him will always remember that drive for perfection. And sometimes you do have to repaint that wall.”

Fiore may not be able to point to a casino and claim he built it, or a piece of equipment and say he invented it, but he can claim a stake on the manner of presentation of signage and the use of color and reel positions in slot machines across every gaming floor. For this and so much more, he will be remembered, and he will be missed.

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