Global Gaming Tries Its Luck with a New Time, Venue and Attitude

October 7, 2011

Although you might think that a trade show dedicated to gambling wouldn’t be a very optimistic place to be these days, participants at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) appeared to have something to smile about.

Held Oct. 4-6 in its new home at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, the world’s largest trade show and conference for the gaming entertainment industry attracted nearly 26,000 attendees and 440 exhibitors spanning 250,000 square feet of exhibit space. In 2010, the event attracted 24,941 attendees and 520 exhibitors occupying 250,000 sq. ft.

According to Judy Patterson, senior vice president and executive director of the American Gaming Association, which organizes the show in partnership with Reed Exhibitions, despite a drop in exhibiting companies, the renewed energy and optimism on the showfloor was because of several factors: the move to a new venue and consolidation under one roof, a shift to better dates for the industry and a more positive outlook for future of gaming.

“First, we’ve moved to this new venue and reconfigured the showfloor,” Patterson said. “It’s much easier to navigate, we’re all on same level and in the same space, and it’s easy to find where you want to go. There’s also more visibility for the smaller exhibitors … that’s been a big plus for them.”

Besides the show’s redesign, the move to a new venue after almost a decade at the Las Vegas Convention Center also allowed G2E to move its dates from mid-November to early October, giving casino companies more leeway in making product investments before locking up their budgets for the coming year, Patterson said.

In addition, gradual revenue increases and the impending expansion of gaming in several U.S. states, including Illinois, Massachusetts and Florida, also was giving the industry something to feel positive about, she added.

“Companies are still having to make difficult choices in how they spend their money, but we’re starting to see a turnaround,” Patterson said. “For example, in Las Vegas, hotel room rate averages are going up, visitation numbers are gradually increasing and so are gaming revenues, so all the energy that’s out (on the showfloor) is a combination of all of these factors.”

Highlights at the event included dozens of panel discussions and 135 educational sessions covering hot industry topics and trends ranging from Internet gambling and social media to tribal gaming, as well as the debut of a G2E mobile app, an expo entertainment stage and networking opportunities.

The event also marked a first-time collocation with the International Association of Gaming Advisors and National Center for Responsible Gaming, an arrangement that will continue periodically going forward, Patterson said.

On a bright and colorful expo floor touting the latest and greatest in casino innovations and products, including hundreds of slot machines, traffic was brisk. Many exhibitors said they were very pleased with the show’s new venue, dates and configuration.

Exhibitor Robert Garity, senior sales executive of Micros, said he was especially happy with the show’s new layout.

“The larger exhibitors are deeper into the show than at the LVCC, so traffic has to come through the hall and (attendees) have to walk by us,” Garity said. “Although I think it’s a little slower than last year, and I haven’t seen a lot of people buying product, people are buying our product, and we’re doing well.”

Long-time attendee Ely Prussin, director of player development of Mesquite Gaming, said he was not only pleased with the new venue and the improved layout, but also was feeling optimistic about the signs of life he was seeing in the industry.

“Our business is starting to pick up a little bit and our new owners are making investments in new product,” Prussin said. “Increases in revenue are definitely a step in the right direction.”

G2E will return Oct. 2-4 to the Sands

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