hich are your expectations for this year’s G2E edition?
I’ll tell you this- we are really looking forward to the start of the show! The team has been working very hard this year to deliver the most valuable event possible in a tough economic environment. And in working with our exhibitors, speakers, association partners and all other members of the industry we know that the industry has also worked hard to deliver a stellar event. There will be hundreds of new products on the show floor and a number of new show features created to help gaming operators compete and make the most of their business as we head into the future.
How many exhibitors will be present this year? Do you have any forecast in terms of number of visitors?
We are expecting approximately 735 exhibiting companies and 28,000-30,000 in total attendance at the event.
Which are the main features of the G2E 2008 or some differences comparing last year’s edition?
This year the North Hall of the convention will be dedicated to non-gaming amenities. In the past we featured F&B at G2E in the North Hall. This year F&B will be joined by the all new Retail Promenade as well as the Entertainment Arena. In addition the Fine Wines & Cocktails Ultra Lounge, sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits, will feature the best of their products and the F&B Demo stage will offer three full days of culinary and cocktail demonstrations as well as the popular Ultra Lounge Fashion Show, sponsored by Cintas.
In the Central Halls we have added a number of new food, seating and cocktail options including G2E’s Healthy Café, the Eye in the Sky Bar and a new Smoking Lounge located to the left of Hall C5. In addition, we are welcoming the World Series of Poker to G2E this year! Celebrity players including: Antonio “The Magician” Estandiari, David Williams, Scott Nguyeun and Jean-Robert Bellande will be playing alongside some very lucky G2E attendees who have signed up to play. The tournaments will take place during the three days of G2E in Hall C5.
Which do you think will be some of the most innovative products or technologies to be released?
You will see a number of multi-player electronic roulette tables -one that has been developed specifically to allow casinos to offer a roulette game in jurisdictions that only permit number/ball-draw games like bingo or lotteries. Many of the new games offer touch screens or touch screen player stations. There are also new technologies in the Security & Surveillance area -CCTV cameras as well as RFID technology to help with the cash management process. No matter where you go, whether its to the big booths of IGT, Bally, Aristocrat, WMS, Atronic, Shuffle Master or whether your walking in the new Retail Promenade you’ll see how technology is changing the games and also changing the back-office operations for gaming.
The conference program is always a strong point of the events. Which are the most important topics discussed this year?
There are a number of new programs this year including Casino Design, a full day conference focused on architecture, design & renovation trends. In addition, we have added a Finance track to the conference this year and have focused a number of our sessions on surviving and thriving in a tough economy. And while we’ve been talking about Server-Based gaming for a number of years this year we are getting into the nuts about bolts a little more with a five-session series on Server-Based gaming applications covering everything from the introduction of server-based applications, its potential in the marketplace, the impact it will have on operations , its comparison to central determinations systems, and the value it will ultimately provide customers and the ROI. And, the recent elections resulted in good news for many gaming companies and jurisdictions.
The elimination of loss limits in Missouri, the raising of betting limits in Colorado, and the approval of slots in Maryland will bring increased investment and more opportunity to many companies - operators and suppliers alike. The industry can learn the details about these developments and how to take advantage of these opportunities by attending the G2E conference. All in all, the conference at G2E is more comprehensive than ever and will feature more than 150 sessions and 500 speakers from all over the world.
Will Latin America have a strong presence this year at G2E in terms of exhibitors and visitors?
We have companies from Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Panama and Peru represented on the show floor and expect to see hundreds of attendees from across the region. To date more than 500 people have registered to attend from Latin American, most coming from Argentina!
How do you think the current economic and financial crisis will affect the show in particular this year, and the global gaming industry in general during the upcoming months or during 2009?
I have been to a number of trade shows in different industries this year and have been happy to see tremendous energy and solid attendance at all of the events I’ve attended. G2E will floor a larger show this year and while our attendance numbers are tracking a little off from last year we are not seeing anything dramatic. With the help of our conference advisory board and association partners we take great pride in keeping pace with what the market demands. Rather than shying away from the economic downturn we are addressing it head on in our conference program so that our attendees can work together and share ideas regarding the significant challenges we are facing.
What we expect is that people will be coming to the show to conduct business, to network, to see new products and to continue to educate themselves on the trends affecting the industry. It’s important for the industry to come together, to learn from each other and to gain energy and ideas from gaming colleagues all over the world. While I’m dismayed to read that some gaming companies are seeing tough times I am an optimist at heart. The elections were good for gaming in the US and I am hopeful that the global economic crisis will be shorter than we hope and that gaming will rebound quickly and we’ll be back in a position to see further growth for our industry.