Last month, I had the opportunity to travel around the world in literally nine days. With three stops in Canada, stops in South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, I had the privilege of traveling the world attending conferences, trade shows and GLI-produced events, and along the way I have met with operators, suppliers and regulators from countless jurisdictions. Across the world, the overall mood I ascertained was one of optimism for the future. Clearly, the mood is better outside of the United States and Europe. I would say the business climate is cautious optimism, perhaps, but optimism all the same. That mood, hopefully, will be on display at the Global Gaming Expo 2010 and will carry us through the rest of this year, and as we attend G2E, I recommend we be mindful of the absolutely global nature of gaming industry, as it is more important and more relevant than ever before.
Most recently, I was in South America for SAGSE, and for GLI Latin America’s Regulators Roundtable. The SAGSE show floor was bustling, and it seemed there were more countries than ever represented at the exposition. The same was true at our Roundtable, where we had more attendees from more jurisdictions than ever. Latin America is absolutely a hot spot for gaming today and in the future. Suppliers are finding their way to South America very quickly, and regulators are ready, willing and able to tackle the task at hand as new devices and systems enter the marketplace.
It is vital to remember that as gaming expands from Mexico to Chile, maintaining the public trust will prove to be the key to gaming’s success, just as violation of the public trust could prove to be a fatal error. GLI is at the ready to help regulators, suppliers and operators earn and maintain the public trust by testing and certifying the amazing new devices and systems that are making their way into the Latin American marketplace.
North America is showing signs of recovery on the supplier front and operators are also beginning to move forward. For example, the recent Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) Index of suppliers showed its largest increase since April 2010. In fact, during the month of August, the AGEM composite score grew 5.15 points, or 5.86 percent. Operators in the epicenter of the gaming recession, Las Vegas, also showed signs of recovery with August revenues up more than 20 percent, and Isle of Capri was approved for a Nevada gaming license in September. September numbers are looking good as well, as reported by the press.
These numbers indicate that optimism is growing and recovery is underway, and in our New Jersey, Colorado and Las Vegas labs, we are seeing exciting, innovative products from suppliers that will appeal to players.
In Europe, the mobile, online and land-based gaming all continue to move forward. Interestingly, land-based operators are becoming more and more attracted to online and mobile gaming, as they continue to understand how it might improve and extend the relationship between player and casino. With U.S. legislation stalled until after the November election, and with Barney Frank in a tight race in Massachusetts, online gaming will be an intriguing area of the industry to watch in the coming months.
There is reason for optimism here as well. One of the hesitations for many regulators and lawmakers about online gaming was the ability to test and, by extension, to regulate it. Fortunately, technology exists to successfully test for online gaming, as our European labs have been doing. In fact, the demand for online gaming testing has grown exponentially since GLI’s acquisition of TST earlier this summer, and we see this entire facet of the industry as an area with incredible growth potential.
However, like land-based gaming’s expansion in Latin America, online gaming’s success will be dependent upon the public trust, and suppliers, operators and regulators must move cautiously and openly to continually shore up the public trust. Successful testing and certification will be vital to this process.
My point with this short trip around the world is, as we move into the Global Gaming Expo, we need to be mindful that today, more than ever, the word “global” is key to our collective success. Regulators the world over are watching and learning from each other, because the technology that is in use in one part of the world today will be in use in another part tomorrow. Suppliers the world over are constantly looking for new markets – Singapore and Mexico being great examples – to diversify their customer base to help protect against any economic slowdown in one particular part of the world. Operators are carefully monitoring how new technologies are being embraced by players around the globe, and how players in their other markets might accept or reject the new technologies.
Arching over all of this are the players, whose gaming experiences – good and bad – are instantly shared in myriad ways through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social outlets. It is that instant global exchange of experience that we must remember as we walk the G2E floor. We must be vigilant in delivering a great experience and in maintaining the public trust in every jurisdiction, every hour, every minute of the day. I am absolutely confident and optimistic that we can do both. For the continued success of this global gaming industry, we must.