|By Richard N. Velotta, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 03, 2011--The nation's largest gathering of the gaming industry hits Las Vegas this week in a new location and earlier in the year than in the past.
The four-day Global Gaming Expo -- G2E -- opens today and will bring more than 25,000 people to the Sands Expo and Convention Center to see the latest casino innovations and discuss issues confronting the industry.
Presentations by Rio headliner Penn Jillette and MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren will highlight keynote addresses Tuesday and Wednesday, and a panel of industry experts will discuss trends in innovation and technology designed to drive business.
Other major panel sessions will focus on encouraging more women to participate in the industry and the future of tribal gaming. Long-time Las Vegan Jan Jones, senior vice president of communications and government relations for Caesars Entertainment, will be among the panelists on women in the industry.
The Washington-based American Gaming Association sponsors G2E, which is not open to the public. Reed Exhibitions produces the show, which debuted in 2001 in Las Vegas.
Previous G2E conferences have been conducted in mid-November at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but organizers moved the show to early October to give buyers a better opportunity to investigate new products before closing out their annual budgets. Show organizers also said the earlier date allows better spacing between other international gaming shows.
"It became clear to us that the dates we had were not ideal because our operators had always wanted to know a little earlier about products coming to the market," said Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.
"Having it earlier also gave our exhibitors a little breathing room because right after our show, they were packing up for the International Casino Exhibition in London," he said.
The Sands venue also benefited the show because G2E sprawled over two halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but now will be accommodated in one. In addition, the International Association of Gaming Advisors and the National Center for Responsible Gaming are meeting at the Venetian at around the same time, making it easier for attendees to see all shows.
More than 440 companies, including more than 40 international exhibitors, will participate in a trade show on a floor the size of two and a half football fields. The newest slot machines, table games, security systems and casino amenities will be on display, and the most prominent names in casino equipment and games will be present.
Among new products at the show will be the Michael Jackson-themed slot machine by Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies.
Organizers say more than 130 presentations and panels led by industry leaders will be focused within 14 tracks, including an iGaming Congress that will include discussions on issues surrounding the effort to legalize online poker.
"Online gaming is getting larger and larger for our industry, not in the United States, but around the world," Fahrenkopf said. "We now have some 85 nations that have legalized Internet gaming."
Fahrenkopf also said the association would distribute a report on the economic impact of the casino industry.
The National Center for Responsible Gaming began a conference Sunday at the Venetian with a series of technical medical presentations on gambling and addictive behavior. The event is run in conjunction with G2E.
The International Association of Gaming Advisors conference gives industry analysts an opportunity to speak directly to executives of casino companies about their companies' financial prospects.
(c)2011 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Visit the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) at www.lasvegassun.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services