To start, the event marked its 20thanniversary, a milestone that was noted throughout the networking breaks and social events surrounding the show. For the second year in a row, Southern Gaming Summit was privileged to host the Global Gaming Women Luncheon, which featured leaders from the commercial and tribal gaming sectors who spoke on the professional development issues facing women executives in gaming. Also unique to this year’s even was the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), who will retire this month.
Gary Loveman, CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment, presented Fahrenkopf with his award prior to his own keynote presentation, which ended up being the buzz of the conference. Loveman told attendees that the old model of casino growth needed to the revamped, that operators need to look beyond greenfield development and hotel expansion and instead create entertainment-first experiences, perhaps in urban areas, to attract the next generation of gambler.
In addition to Loveman’s keynote, the Southern Gaming Summit conference program that featured 16 breakout sessions, including operator-driven panels on the topics of slot profitability, marketing, Asian table games, information technology and security. The BingoWorld program offered nine breakout sessions, including a bingo managers’ roundtable plus the popular Bingo U workshops.
Equally impressive was the Southern Gaming Summit Expo Show Floor which featured over 125 exhibiting companies offering new products and services from leaders in the industry. For the first time, thanks to a sponsorship by SCA Gaming, show floor attendees had a chance to win grand prize giveaways including a Caribbean cruise and up to $1 million in cash. Among the other product highlights:
- Ortiz Gaming was the clearly one of the stars of the show thanks in part to its impressive booth display, the largest and most intricate at the show. Casino operators, bingo hall executives and vendors flocked to the Ortiz booth to see the next generation of video bingo terminals and games showcased on purple-and-white themed large screens and experience the confetti-shooting bonus rounds. Maurilio da Silva, CEO of Ortiz Gaming USA, also announced that the first U.S. installations of Ortiz games will take this place this month at Oklahoma Indian casinos.
- WMS Gaming used the Southern Gaming Summit show floor as a backdrop to showcase its new Blade series of game cabinets that features large LCD panels and unique, creative game content, according to Dean Erlich, vice president of gaming and networked operations for the company.
- Konami Gaming showed off its Goliath series of games complete with two-person bench seating.
- Innovolt offered cutting-edge electronics protection products designed to insure ongoing gaming machine and security systems operation in the face of power outages, brown-outs, lightening strikes and other potential dangers to the electrical grid.
- O-Craps! offered a new table game concept that allowed Class II bingo to be played as a traditional game of craps.
- Atrient showcased its PowerKiosk concept that combines a number of customer-facing services in addition to promotions and social media capabilities for the property.