What Happens at G2E Arrives at Your Casino - Eventually

(September, 2014)

You can’t go. It’s a private event. But what happens this week at the Global Gaming Expo could have a lot to do with how you spend your gaming money in the months and years ahead – including your first chance to win money playing video games.

 “It’s the largest collection of everyone in the industry,” says American Gaming Association spokesman Chris Moyer. “Commercial casino employees, executives, manufacturers, reporters who cover the industry. There’s exhibitors coming from all over the globe.”

More than 450 exhibitors, to be semi-exact. Also on hand is what Moyer labels the greatest collection of industry leaders in the show’s history.

 Leading that list: the two most famous CEOs in Vegas, Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. While Wynn’s been the face of Vegas expansion since building the Mirage in 1989, Adelson made his major fortune developing the computer trade show COMDEX. And in the past few years, he’s been known for his support for Republican presidential candidates as much as for his casinos.

The challenges facing the gaming industry will get plenty of attention, says Moyer.

“Certainly big data, cyber security, surveillance and security at the casinos. Anti-money laundering efforts is certainly a topic of conversation here. Reaching millennials… that younger customer, is important for the industry. Certainly Internet gaming is another topic. There’s discussions about what might happen in Japan and other outside-the-US markets.”

But don’t expect the AGA to be diving all that deep into Internet gaming.  

“The AGA is letting others take the lead,” says Moyer. “We have members who have a diverse viewpoint on online gaming, and we are letting those members take the lead on the issue. We’ve taken a step back.”

“Diverse” is the understatement of the week. The AGA was nearly ripped apart by Sheldon Adelson’s vocal and very active opposition – and his threats to leave the association.

But for you, the big question isn’t about big-time issues, but big-time games. G2E is when investors and manufacturers roll out new games. The chances of seeing a new card game on the floor of your favorite casino are slim, you will be seeing new slot machines. And again this year many of those new machines are based on both new and old TV shows and movies.

Mad Men, Wonder Woman (complete with Linda Carter at the debut!), Friends, Sons of Anarchy and Ellen Degeneres (a slot based on a talk show?) will all roll out this week. Slot maker WMS has posted this nifty preview of the Mad Men machine.

But what could be the biggest news is the debut of a kind of slot machine – one that pegs some bonus winning on your ability to play video games.

At last year’s G2E, IGT showed up this huge slot based on Atari’s Centipede. But we haven’t seen it on casino floors because the regulators hadn’t approved the new concept. That’s now starting to happen. Back in June, the Nevada State Gaming Commission approved Gamblit Gaming’s application to build and sell interactive gaming machines.

Saying its mission is to “bridge the gap between games and gaming,” Gamblit will be rolling out the first examples of those slot machines that have bonus features that allow you to win more the better you play.

The phrase that pays, so to speak, is “real money gaming capabilities.” We’ll see this week just exactly what that means.