The reduced number of booths and attendees and much more space to walk would have seemed unusual for the world’s largest gaming industry trade show in recent years.
But after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the convention to go digital in 2020, the 2021 iteration of the Global Gaming Expo was a chance for the gaming industry to come together and collectively expire, even at more. Small scale.
“I think we were all really looking forward to getting together here,” said Phil O’Shaughnessy, vice president of global communications, trade shows and corporate social responsibility for game maker IGT.
“It’s both a trade show and an industry meeting. It’s just an absolutely fantastic industry, and it’s so closely linked. And we’re all so happy to see each other, ”O’Shaughnessy said. “Yes, we are competitors. But we’re also all in this big business together, and we see a lot of our old friends. And there is nothing better than meeting a customer, replicating a casino floor and being able to give them an authentic experience.
This year’s show drew more than 13,000 gaming professionals to The Venetian Expo Monday through Thursday, according to the American Gaming Association, operators of G2E. There were significantly fewer people than the 27,000 attendees the show typically attracts, but expected given the challenges associated with international travel during the pandemic.
“After the most difficult year in our history, G2E has provided a strong market to advance the recovery of the global gaming industry,” said AGA President and Aristocrat CEO Trevor Croker in a statement. communicated. “Nothing beats a live show – and we’re thrilled with the audience and the excitement surrounding G2E 2021.”
“Much better than I expected”
These small numbers did not dampen the enthusiasm on the show floor this week.
“The whole show was pretty good. It was a great success with many existing customers to review, but also new customers that we were able to gain, ”said Dennys Patir, of Patir Casino Seating, who has been coming to the convention since 2005.“ It was much better than which I expected because everyone was really concerned before. Everyone who was here on the show really wanted to get something out of the show. “
G2E was not the first in-person trade show for the industry this year – NIGA’s annual Indian gaming show and convention was held in Las Vegas in July – but it provided the opportunity for executives of game companies to physically get their hands on a host of brand new corporate unveils for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
“A sign of welcome”
The number of innovations was impressive, given how badly the industry had been hit by pandemic shutdowns, said Marcus Prater, executive director of the Las Vegas-based Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers.
“The pandemic has not been favorable to the supplier sector. Business has dried up to next to nothing. People have been made redundant. It was dark, ”Prater said. “Seeing the innovation continue behind the scenes, and here the innovation is on display, was a welcome sign given the situation of the supplier group just a year ago. Life has not returned to wine and roses full time, but we are certainly headed in the right direction.
Offering these innovations is one thing. Just as important is being able to show them off.
“G2E is essential for us because in the casino world in North America there are approximately 1,000 physical casinos and the makers of those casinos all come to G2E. We have the ability to spend time with all of our existing customers as well as with all of our potential customers, so G2E is a big deal, ”said Justin Sprague, senior vice president of marketing for GlobalPayments, Las Vegas, a financial technology.
Sprague said G2E gives the company the ability to do more than 750 product presentations at a single show.
“It influences millions and millions of transactions (worth dollars) that we’re working on right now, so that’s where we need to be,” Sprague added.
“A big step in the right direction”
The convention has also served as another marker of southern Nevada’s economic recovery after being devastated by closures forced by a pandemic and a slower rebound that comes with a heavily touristed market.
Leisure travel has rebounded much faster than expected, as evidenced by key economic indicators such as gaming revenue and weekend visitation rates and hotel occupancy rates approaching or even exceeding prior levels. the pandemic.
What has continued to lag behind, however, are the midweek numbers which are usually determined by conventions.
“It’s a critical part of the overall makeup of the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality industry,” said Josh Swissman, founding partner of The Strategy Organization, a Las Vegas gaming and hospitality consultancy firm. . “Seeing these big shows happen, even if it’s with smaller numbers, is a big step in the right direction.”
For Lindsay Slader, general manager of games for Vancouver-based GeoComply, this year’s convention marked Slader’s 10th G2E. The extra leeway at this year’s convention was noticeable, she said, but it still provided plenty of opportunities to renew these important business relationships.
Still, a return to the usual buzz in the future would be most welcome.
“I’m always eager to see more of the fuss, (and) the neck and neck (the participation) would be really fun, but it’s just good that we’re all here,” she said.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates The Venetian Expo.