The 18th G2E convention ran last week in Las Vegas from October 8th to October 11th. The convention has become an annual gaming industry event and this year drew a record attendance of 28,000 people. The G2E is a forum for product and equipment producers to show off their latest products to the many casino operators that attend the convention. Fully 111 countries were represented either by operators or by producers making this year’s convention the most diverse and most global in the history of the G2E.
Land Based Competition with Online
One of the most subliminal aspects of the G2E convention is the desire of land based casinos to find the most attractive new innovations to help them market their brand against the ongoing competition from online casinos which have almost an inherent advantage over the land based casinos in terms of higher payout rates, lower travel costs (zero!), bigger and more frequent casino bonuses, more games, no waiting and so on.
Land based casinos have to find new products on a regular basis in order to be able to compete both with online casinos and with each other.
The decision in May of the United States Supreme Court which opened the way for all 50 US states to legalize and regulate sports betting was possibly the biggest new area of interest at G2E 2018. A well-attended sports betting symposium was held at which every aspect of sports betting was discussed.
In addition to talks on the legal and purely business side of sports betting, the convention set aside an area that was devoted exclusively to people involved in sports betting from casino and sportsbook operators to suppliers.
Sara Slane, a senior vice president for the American Gaming Association, who had led the association’s lobbying effort in favor of rescinding the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which had left sports betting in the United States in the hands of either Las Vegas bookmakers or, far more frequently, in the hands of illegal bookmakers all over the US where sports betting was not legal, spoke about how the high court’s decision in overthrowing PASPA would impact gaming.
Before the convention began, she said that, “As states and sovereign tribal nations consider whether or not to enact legalized sports betting, the Sports Betting Symposium at G2E will offer the world’s foremost experts, business leaders, and operational solutions to build a thriving legal market in the United States.”
Amateurs Need Education to Become Professionals
Sports betting presents both great opportunities and daunting challenges to the 50 states. It is up to legislators in those states to write and pass the laws that will govern legal sports betting in their areas. Legislators are not expert in the minutiae of sports betting so a symposium such as the one run by this year’s G2E may be recreated all over the United States in the upcoming months and years.
As the illegal sports betting market in the United States was estimated at $80 billion annually, most industry observers expect it to rise as sports betting becomes legal and attracts those who had been averse to betting on sports illegally.
G2E has always prided itself that it continually strives to stay not just abreast of changes in the gaming industry but ahead of the curve to the full extent that an annual convention can stay in front of such a dynamic industry. By featuring sports betting for this years’ convention the managers of G2E were saying, in effect, that G2E will always find the one or two hottest subjects and will feature them prominently in that year’s convention.
In so doing, the managers of G2E are trying to make attendance at each year’s convention “mandatory” for any operator or producer in any way connected to gaming.
Global Gaming Awards (GGA)
Although the G2E convention is in its 18th year, the GGA are only five years old. This year, awards were given in twelve categories with such industry luminaries as Hard Rock International and Bet365 taking top awards in the land based and online casino categories. SG Digital won two awards, one for its Open Bet product and the other as the Digital Supplier of the Year. Scientific Games won the award as the land based Supplier of the Year.
Many of the awards winners or representatives of the winning companies and casinos were interviewed afterward. To a person, they spoke about the importance of sports betting in the United States and the expected boost it will give to gaming in every form.
Global iGaming Regulatory Update Panel
This panel discussion was held on the convention’s’ first day. The panelists spoke about the need for regulatory agencies around the world to work together to create a streamlined body of regulations that casino operators can use wherever they are operating a casino and in both the land based and online casino formats.
Susan O’Leary, CEO of Alderney eGaming, spoke impassionedly about the importance of collaboration among regulators. Speaking on this subject she said, “I think it’s totally essential for collaboration and cooperation and it helps the entire industry so it’s not just the regulators collaborating and cooperating but the entire industry. So, it’s a full ecosystem.”
The gaming industry is an ecosystem that depends on every part to succeed. The ecosystem needs sound and reasonable regulations and needs them to be as close to each other as possible even across national lines, despite cultural nuances, and so on. Governments need the gaming industry to generate tax revenue and the gaming industry needs a unified code of regulations to maximize the profits whence said tax revenue comes.
So, as Susan O’Leary said, it’s a full ecosystem. Sports betting is the newest wrinkle to hit the industry because the now legal sports betting segment in the United States is so large and because in the United States there are at least 50 different governmental jurisdictions. In addition to state governments, there are Native American tribes that run may land based casinos in the United States and want to get in on the massive sports betting market there.
As this year’s convention ended, many attendees were already talking about next year’s convention since the industry has changed so much in just a few years and legal sports betting is truly in its infancy. Observers feel that sports betting in the US and elsewhere will change greatly in the next year so that next year’s G2E will likely feature sports betting even more prominently than it did this year.