G2E 2021 Begins: Three Key Gaming Industry Topics That Will Be Examined This Week

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G2E 2021 Begins: Three Key Gaming Industry Topics That Will Be Examined This Week

LAS VEGAS – In a town chock full of gaming professionals, thousands more have descended upon the Strip for the biggest in-person industry conference since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

G2E Attendees
G2E Attendees
Attendees walk the hallway leading to the 2019 Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas. After holding a virtual conference in 2020, the major industry is back with an in-person event at The Venetian this week. (Image: Casino.org)

The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) officially kicks off Monday at the Venetian Expo (formerly known as The Sands Expo and Convention Hall). The four-day event will include some looking back –the Tuesday morning keynote is Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and US Rep. Dina Titus talking about the state’s recovery. However, more time will be spent on where the industry is going.

And I know I’m breaking any news here, but that’s the reason why people come to these events. Yes, it’s a major networking opportunity and a great way to meet new people in the industry. But G2E provides gaming industry leaders a chance to see into the future.

So, with that in mind, here are three of the major topics that will be discussed at this year’s G2E.

Cashless Gaming, Cashless Gaming, Cashless Gaming

American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller touched on this topic in welcoming remarks two years ago. He noted that the industry needs to get away from handling transactions the same way flea markets and garage sales handle them.

Nine months later, as casinos were beginning to reopen after the first round of COVID-19 closures, cashless gaming turned from an idea for the future to a more immediate need.

Companies like Global Payments Gaming Solutions and Sightline Payments have been involved in pilot programs with tribal and commercial gaming entities. The goal is to test how the new technology can work in an environment that previously used cash transactions.

Some players and responsible gaming advocates have raised concerns about privacy issues amid fears that cashless gaming could increase problem gambling behaviors. Those issues will need to be addressed, and some of those conversations have already started.

That said, the pandemic has encouraged companies in a variety of industries to have fewer touchpoints with their customers, and more consumers have become accustomed to streamlined mobile transaction processes. I’m not sure we’ll ever see the day a casino goes completely cashless, but the digital revolution is a lot closer than it was this time two years ago.

Sessions to Attend: There are several, but Monday’s Moving the Money: Digital Payments, Myths, Misconceptions and Opportunities, presented by the International Association of Gaming Advisors (1:40 pm PT, Titian 2301) looks to provide a high-level overview on where the industry is and what the future may hold (Hint: cryptocurrency).

On Tuesday, Modernizing Gaming Payments: Will It Take More Than a Pandemic? (2:20 pm PT, Titian 2301) will delve into the regulatory aspects of cashless gaming and what the industry has learned over the past year.

Future of Sports Betting

Sports betting is now legal in some form in a majority of states, so the future isn’t necessarily about new markets, although there are still several out there.

While sports betting operators will still pursue those new opportunities, there’s also a focus on establishing partnerships with media entities and sports teams to grow their existing markets. A recent AGA survey found that 44 percent of all Americans and 63 percent of NFL fans think that brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in sporting venues will add entertainment value to attending a sporting event.

The expansion of legal sports betting is deepening fan engagement and driving new business opportunities for sports leagues and teams,” Miller said.

There’s also a question of how competitive the US sports betting market will be in the future. Currently, California, Florida, and New York – three of the biggest US markets – may end up being some of the most restricted markets from a competition standpoint.

If that happens, what will that do to smaller, entrepreneurial operators trying to establish themselves? Will they and other sportsbooks be able to grow or survive without access to a quarter of the country’s population?

Sessions to Attend: Cards on the Table: A Conversation with Arizona Cardinals’ Michael Bidwill is the Wednesday afternoon keynote at G2E. The session (1 pm PT, Venetian Ballroom F) will feature a one-on-one conversation between the Cardinals owner and AGA’s Miller on the new relationship between sportsbooks and sports teams.

After Bidwell’s keynote, there are a couple of other sports betting sessions taking place at the same time, 2:40 pm PT. Legal Sports Betting: The Opportunities & Challenges for Collegiate Athletics (Titian 2301) will delve into how stakeholders can work together to preserve integrity, while Bringing Bettors Stateside (Titian 2203) will examine the obstacles legal sportsbooks face when competing against offshore operators.

The Future Isn’t All About Technology

There will be new games and new infrastructure touted over the next four days. But that’s not the only aspect of the gaming industry that needs changing.

Tuesday afternoon’s keynote session will take a deeper look at diversity and gaming. But that won’t be the only event dedicated to the issue.

Session to Attend: On Wednesday, Trailblazers: Power of Questions, Presented by Global Gaming Women (10 am PT, Titian 2305) will feature Cynthia Kiser Murphey, who recently was named the new general manager for The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Lastly, while G2E is in-person, there will still be a virtual component for individuals unable to attend. Registration is still required, and sessions taking place in Titian 2301 will be live-streamed.

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