Vegas kicks off October with G2E, there are plenty of new toys to see

The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is the largest gathering of the year for United States casino operators. This year the expo takes place from October 3-5 at The Venetian and Sands Convention Center. Buyers go to the expo and will look for everything from new games to employee uniforms. Other casino employees will go to various seminars at G2E to hear about the state of the industry around the country.

I go to the expo for a little of both worlds.

I’m in casinos almost every day and always have my eyes open for something new. Today, I’m at The Venetian checking out the first installation of Fortune Cup. This is the first installation of the horse racing game from Konami Gaming in Las Vegas casinos. If you’re into horse racing games, another Fortune Cup game will be installed at MGM Grand.

Back to G2E. I have two goals for the gaming expo. First, I want to see the latest and greatest that casinos gaming manufacturers have to offer. Secondly, I want to hear about the state of casinos today and see what the operators have planned for tomorrow. The speakers and conventioneers often speak more freely in this setting than they do behind a desk at work.

A large part of the latter entails listening to operators from all over the country discuss what’s working today and what trends they see working in the future. Sports betting, esports, and skill-based games are front on of my mind and there will be a lot of time devoted to these subjects. Here are a few seminars I’m looking to attend:

The Possible Repeal of PAPSA

“The most compelling current topic in gaming must be the attention being paid, at the U.S. national level, to the 25-year-old prohibition on sports betting, which has caused a near-monopoly for the state of Nevada. It is fascinating that the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen to consider the legal sanctity of the prohibition and whether it should be repealed or modified after such a long period of existence. Should the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately rule against striking the law, then it will be interesting to view whether the legislative branch gets involved on its own in the matter.” – Darren Heitner, Sports Business Law Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law

The Future of Sports Betting if Legalized

“Perhaps the most exciting aspect of 2018, with respect to sports betting legalization, is what comes next if New Jersey prevails at the Supreme Court. There are many questions about what legal sports betting outside of Nevada will look like. Will it resemble the sportsbooks of the Strip, or will there be an immediate push for online sports betting like the online casinos that exist in several other states?” – John Holden, Visiting Scholar at Florida State University’s Department of Sport Management

Gaining Millennial Interest with Skill-Based Games and Esports

One of the most compelling trends that I see is the convergence of skill-based gaming and esports. In a recent study I conducted of millennials, 40 percent of them said they would play slot machines if they included an element of skill. This was higher than any other age group in the study. Esports is capturing the attention of the generation raised on video games and technology and creating a whole new genre of entertainment. I am looking forward to seeing the latest developments in casino games at G2E that will hopefully capture the interest of this important generation.” – Jane Bokunewicz, Assistant Professor of Hospitality at Stockton University

Monetization of Esports

“The question, or in academic terms, the hypothesis I am presented with almost every week by industry professionals is, ‘how do you monetize esports?’ The entire industry is abuzz with statistics that surround this cultural social phenomenon of young people. But the operators are struggling to understand the economic model that will allow them to evolve the current entertainment to appeal to a younger core customer. It’s easy to see the big numbers that surround the esports paradigm, but the challenge is to make an economic model that is consistent with the profitability levels of the modern casino resort.” – Robert Rippee, Director, Hospitality Lab at the International Gaming Institute at UNLV

Esports is a huge multi-billion dollar business around the world. Las Vegas casinos know that they want a piece of the action. Unfortunately, they’re still trying to figure out how to maximize revenue beyond hosting events.

I didn’t grow up on esports but I’m fascinated by it. It’s amazing to think that there’s a generation of people who find watching these competitions similar to how I see watch the Yankees play the Royals. This could be huge and it could be nothing. I want to gauge where the casino operators stand today.

Last year the photo from G2E I received the most comments on was of a sports betting kiosk. This was a European version of the kiosk technology we see in casinos today with much more information. The improved sports betting kiosk hasn’t reached the U.S. today but I don’t think it will be far away.

There are always ways to improve the gambling experience in casinos. I’ve seen some previews of sports betting concepts that look like they could be great. I hope to see if these live up to the previews and if they have any buyers in Las Vegas.

Between the casino operators and gaming manufacturers, I hope to have a better understanding of what we’ll see in the future. Speaking of random casino games from 2016…where’s the damn Seinfeld slot machine I was promised to be playing by now?!