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G2E kicks off 8th expo -- up to 30,000 expected

Nov 18, 2008 5:10 PM

by David Stratton |

The commercial casino industry finds the spotlight this week as the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) convenes in Las Vegas for its annual convention and exposition.

Now in its eighth year, the four-day G2E conclave will feature more than 500 exhibitors and 250 speakers for the expected 30,000 attendees who will crowd into the Las Vegas Convention Center.

While G2E is expected to attract casino operators from virtually every U.S. jurisdiction and more than 50 nations, attendance could be off by 15 percent to 20 percent because of the current economic slump.

"I’ve heard that one-fourth of the casino executives who normally make the trip won’t be here because of belt-tightening in the industry," said a longtime G2E exhibitor. "Since we transact more than 50 percent of our business at G2E, we could experience a drop-off in new orders."

Mindful of the economic turmoil buffeting casinos, G2E keynote events will explore what may be in store for the gaming industry and how operators can jump start he health and success of their businesses by anticipating these trends.

"With this year’s keynote events, G2E is providing gaming professionals a one-of-a-kind opportunity to understand how industry and thought leaders are viewing the future of gaming, given the current economic climate and other challenges and opportunities that are on the horizon," said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA). "With our industry’s further integration into new sectors of the global economy, the unique insights offered by G2E’s keynote speakers and panels will provide important guidance on how gaming can use current challenges as a launching pad for the ideas, inspirations and business decisions that will strengthen the industry in the future."

The keynote events kick off on Tuesday with award-winning journalist Ron Insana, who is expected to share his views about the state of the economy, and where the country is headed with a newly-elected president at the helm.

Insana is the former anchor of CNBC’s "Street Signs," has written monthly columns for USA Today and hosted a nationally syndicated radio program. He currently serves as a regular contributor on CNBC, offering color commentary on major market and political events.

On Wednesday, Fahrenkopf will moderate G2E’s popular State of the Industry keynote panel discussion, which this year will focus on "The Evolution of Global Gaming."

Fahrenkopf will lead a discussion among leading executives about the key issues currently affecting the gaming industry, including how casino operators can use today’s challenges as a springboard for future growth and innovation.

Panelists include Terry Lanni, chairman and CEO of MGM Mirage, Gary Loveman, chairman, CEO and president of Harrah’s Entertainment, Armin Karu, chairman of the management board of Olympic Entertainment Group, and Ernie Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association.

The final keynote on Thursday will address "Change and Challenges: The Tribal Community Connection," which will explore the Indian gaming sector and how it is fostering relationships with the communities surrounding tribal casino operations.

J.R. Mathews, vice chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma will moderate the discussion, which is expected to target community issues facing tribal casinos across the country and proactive measures these operations are taking to foster synergistic relationships with local communities.

In addition to the keynote addresses, G2E will feature dozens of panel discussions and seminars, as well as its vast expo featuring hundreds of industry providers.

"G2E understands the value of evolving to meet changing industry demands, and each year we make it a top priority to not only take the pulse of the industry, but listen to our customers and what they want," Fahrenkopf said. "This year we are very pleased to introduce a host of new features, events and amenities that will add value for the G2E attendees and exhibitors to help them shape the future of our exciting and growing industry."

New additions to G2E this year will focus on non-gaming casino amenities, and how operators can use them to attract customers and bolster their bottom line.

For instance, G2E’s new Entertainment Arena will feature an exhibit hall with vendors who support the live performances associated with global gaming industry, as well as the Entertainment Showcase, with daily shows from musical artists, comedians and other performers.

In addition, the Retail Promenade will feature a variety of retail products that have proven to be successful in casino operations, and two mini-pavilions, the Eyewear Piazza and PGA Pro Shop, which give glimpses into these two popular and evolving retail segments.

Returning this year is the wildly popular Food & Beverage Pavilion, which showcases how top casinos use the dining experience to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In addition to the latest trends and culinary innovations, the F&B Pavilion features celebrity chefs preparing their fare for hungry attendees.

GamingToday will provide complete coverage of G2E events beginning next Tuesday. For the latest G2E news updates, check back with throughout the week.