G2E 2014 is now in full swing, today marking the official opening of G2E’s grand expo hall with 294,000 square feet of expo space and over 485 exhibitors from 32 countries, making up the largest show floor since 2008. In short, the expo hall is huge. Alongside the impressive expo floor are 175 speakers participating in 68 seminars, so plenty of attractions for everyone.
Today’s expo floor theme was the unveiling of new products, mostly related to slot brands and machines. IGT’s Patti Hart revealed a new Ellen Degeneres slot, celebrated with a custom video message from Degeneres in which she referred to herself as “G2Ellen” and finished off with a live performance from the Jabbawokeez.
Ortiz Gaming hosted a “something amazing will happen” reveal, the unveiling of their new slot machine design coined the “O-Circle,” a curved screen with surround sound creating a new gaming experience to fully emerge the player.
The token celebrity appearance of the day was over at Bally’s booth where Linda Carter, the original Wonder Woman, posed for pictures, signed autographs and played slots featuring, well, herself.
Over at the G2E sessions, “The Big Picture: Indian Gaming Today and Tomorrow” featured Jason Giles, Executive Director of the National Indian Association, Dr. Alan Meister, author of the Indian Gaming Industry Report and Knute Knudson, VP of Native American Development for IGT.
Meister delivered a number of data points, one illustrating how Indian Casinos have historically outpaced Commercial Casinos in terms of performance. Another point highlighted how the share of casino gaming revenue is increasing for Indian Gaming and how in 2012, Indian Casino revenue was almost equal to Commercial Casinos revenue.
The main takeaway from this panel was the opportunity and room to grow for Indian Gaming, especially when it comes to non-gaming activity. Here’s a powerful stat to illustrate this area for growth: 89% of Tribal Casino revenue comes from gaming and in Nevada, 35% of casino revenue comes from gaming with the remaining 65% coming from restaurants, hotel rooms, shows, etc.
One of the top highlights from today was the much anticipated Steve Wynn keynote, the first time Wynn has stepped foot into G2E since its inception in 2001. There is no doubt about it, Wynn is an exceptional speaker who delivers with elegance, style and wit- he was an absolute pleasure to listen to.
Wynn made several broad points that stuck with delegates, one being that it isn’t about the equipment and the technology- “We believe only people can make people happy and we are very dedicated to that principal,” he said. “Slots, baccarat tables, poker tables, they are all the same- there is no chance for differentiation, so it’s about something else- it’s about things that give people the chance to live big,” he added.
Wynn is a big believer in a customer’s overall experience and said, “Gaming revenue is an effect, not a cause.” Customers will spend money on rooms, attractions and entertainment- they are interested in experiential moments and while they’re at it, they will gamble- this is what happened at the Golden Nugget and this is what Wynn built into the Mirage and beyond.
Solid leadership within a gambling organization is something Wynn is a strong believer in, especially in an industry that goes through constant change. “Find a way to enhance employees’ self esteem,” he said. A big salary alone won’t do it and with the right working environment people will stay put – “you will have an agile, warm work force that can deal with change,” he said.
When it comes to Chinese gamblers and the non-gambling entertainment Vegas offers, Wynn posed the question, “Why do the Chinese come here for Golden Week? Because Las Vegas has given them something special…as long as we keep our eye on that ball, we’re going to be fine,” he said.
The inevitable question of what Wynn thinks of internet gambling was posed and his answer was a bit harsher than some of us expected: “Not much,” he said.
Wynn does not believe in the phrase “we’ll be left behind” when it comes to internet gambling and actually said, “I don’t like internet gambling and I share Sheldon’s conviction.” He pointed out that if a senator is pushing internet gambling and something goes wrong, he’s to blame. He also said that if something goes wrong, regulators will then jump in and throw in more rules that impact all gambling companies. “I’ll take a pass on the internet,” he said.