Early Monday morning, the halls of the Sands Expo and Convention Center echoed with chatter as attendees of the 18th annual Global Gaming Expo scurried off toward the first educational sessions of the year.
After making their way through crowded hallways and scanning their entry badge with security, guests anxiously waited to hear industry experts’ take on the future of sports gaming.
When 9 a.m. rolled around and there were no longer chairs available in the session room, people began to line the back walls. Some stood more than an hour, eager to learn about the gaming industry’s biggest topic of the year.
“There’s a real electricity in the air around the sports betting topic,” said Korbi Carrison, G2E event director. “Each state is deciding whether or not sports betting is right for them. At G2E, we’re offering them a platform to educate themselves, network with other stakeholders and learn so they can make informed decisions.”
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in May, allowing more states to legalize sports gambling. It’s been the biggest change this year in gaming, Carrison said, and it’s evident at G2E. The four-day conference offers eight educational sessions in the “sports betting” track, and more sessions in other tracks touched on the hot topic.
Jessica Feil, a gaming attorney with Ifrah Law in Washington, D.C., said she has plenty of clients who work with sports books and looks forward to seeing what progress has been made in that field.
The G2E sessions have “definitely shifted to sports betting because that’s a hot topic in gaming right now,” she said. “It’s been interesting to see how they’ve focused on that this year. … (I’m excited to) see what the next steps will be.”
Carrison said this year’s conference has seen an increase in providers of sports betting technology and a greater interest in the event’s educational programs.
“We believe that’s due in part to sports betting,” she said.
Roy Student, president of Las Vegas-based gaming and hospitality consultant company Applied Management Strategies, has been attending the conference since its beginnings and said it’s been interesting to see G2E adapt as gaming technology changes.
“They’re showcasing the new slots, new games, new technology from (casino management systems),” he said. With Las Vegas offering more entertainment options in recent years, including new shows and sporting events, “the climate and the surface of the town has been drastically changed.”
Student said he’s looking forward to the unique networking opportunities at G2E.
“It’s become a social network, which is very important,” he said. “Some of the folks only see each other twice a year from all over the world, so you get excited to see them.”
Shauna Williams, a guest services director at Angel of the Winds casino in Washington, said networking was what drew her to the conference. This is her second year.
“It’s a good opportunity to meet people and have that different input,” she said. “You’re looking for the best practices.”
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