GBGC’s Review of G2E 2011 in Las Vegas
By Tihana Jurican
The overall mood at this year’s G2E in Las Vegas was a little gloomy, as the fear of a double-dip recession loomed large. A number of sessions dealt with the connection between the general economy and gaming and the economic forecasts are not that encouraging. The path to a US recovery is likely to be lengthy and bumpy, with relatively high unemployment persisting for at least three years and the consumer confidence remaining at low levels.

Wandering the Strip Las Vegas as a destination seemed busy which is confirmed by visitation figures which are close to 2006/07 peak values. But it is evident that consumers are spending less than before. Cheaper restaurants are busier than the high-end ones, more people are playing the cent machines than the dollar ones and outlets are busier that the high-fashion shops in casino resorts.
The need to diversify the sources of income was evident both in keynote presentations and pre-conference sessions. MGM’ CEO Jim Murren talked about his company diversifying its portfolio with non-casino investments in China and the Middle East. 

One of the pre-conference sessions dealt with online gambling in the USA and online was mentioned in almost every session during the G2E itself. It seems that, even though there is still fear of cannibalisation, more and more US operators are in favour of legalisation of online gambling. Besides the large casinos such as Caesars and MGM, the Native American tribes have also at G2E publicly stated their support for federal legalisation of online poker, provided their terms are met. Of course, any type of legislation, whether on state or federal level, is still some way off.
There was also an interesting session on emerging US jurisdictions, where everybody seemed to agree that Massachusetts will finally get casinos and probably one racino. 
Florida was also a topic of conversation, as was Ohio. Texas was also mentioned and an advocate group called Gaming Council of Texas even had a stand on the expo floor to promote their efforts. With Texas being a very conservative state we expect gaming expansion has a long way to go, but it is good that they are taking the first steps.
Sessions on Asia and Latin America were well attended as usual. One of the most interesting sessions was one that compared the markets in Macau and Singapore. South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam were dubbed “markets of the future” as they look to expand their casino markets. 
In Latin America, Mexico was the most discussed country in light of the recent arson attack at a casino in Monterrey and the resulting uncertainty for the operators.
The expo floor was busy with companies from all segments of the industry, from casino design and food and beverage to magazines and machine and table producers. GBGC tried out some interesting machine and table games, such as IGT’ Twillight zone 3D and Brill Entertainment’ Scossa, a novel game that combines craps and roulette.
The new venue at the Sands worked well and GBGC looks forward to next year’ event when a measure of optimism may have returned.