Â Â Reflecting heightened casino activity worldwide, last week’s G2E drew record crowds to the world’s largest gaming convention.
Â Â Now in its second year, the Global Gaming Expo attracted nearly 10,000 conventioneers, who pored over exhibits and attended dozens of panels and seminars at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Â Â Overall, there were 616 exhibiting companies and 8,183 attendees on its first official day. In just two years since the event's inception, the G2E exhibition floor has expanded from 375 companies comprising 133,330 square feet last year to 616 exhibits encompassing 190,400 square feet today.
Â Â "G2E's aisles were completely packed, and crowds filled nearly all of the conference sessions," said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO, American Gaming Association, which co-sponsors the exhibition. "As gaming continues its expansion as a leading form of entertainment, so does the need for a premier venue that supports buying and selling activity for the industry. Judging by the number of participants here today on both buy and supply sides, an event like G2E is critical for all gaming professionals."
Â Â An interesting trend this year was the interest in gamers from new venues: 16 percent of registrants were internationals, while 45 percent of the remaining 84% percent were from outside the greater Nevada area.
Â Â Among the highlights of the convention were a keynote address by Sam Donaldson, a 35-year ABC news veteran and one of America's most trusted reporters and commentators. G2E also featured cameo roles by Mayor Oscar Goodman, and Wheel of Fortune hosts Pat Sajack and Vanna White, who welcomed the gaming community to Las Vegas.
Â Â The cutting edge seminars included "Wall Street Ways: Gaming Analyst Roundtable," with analysts from leading firms including Bear Stearns & Co. Inc., Goldman Sachs & Co., Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan and UBS Warburg. Other conferences addressed various industry concerns, including gaming technology, development, gaming law and regulation, management, wagering and security.
Â Â One of the most well-attended panel featured a close-up look at the State of the Industry featuring Bill Boyd of Boyd Gaming, Peter Carlino of Penn National Gaming, Michael Gauselmann of Atronic International, Phil Satre of Harrah's Entertainment and Ernie Stevens of the National Indian Gaming Association. The panel was moderated by AGA President and CEO Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
Â Â Other top conference sessions included the Gaming Investment Forum sponsored by Bear Stearns. During these sessions, chief financial officers of the most dynamic and fast-moving companies, both large and small, revealed how they respond to market conditions, consolidation, growth, and special pressures that affect the gaming industry around the world.
Â Â Other seminars featured The Convergence of Gaming and Entertainment, and Debunking the Myths: Public Policy and the Casino Executive, as well as seminars addressing issues surrounding Native American gaming, the future of racing and its integration with the gaming industry, research and public policy for casino executives, and security.