By my estimation, this year will mark my 15th visit to Global Gaming Expo (G2E), which I hope everyone knows by now is taking place Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the Sands Expo & Convention center in Las Vegas. It’s the largest gaming trade show in North America, I highly recommend you attend.

Over those 15 visits spanning 20 plus years, I have seen a lot of changes to both the show and the industry—the rise and dominance of video slot machines, the acceptance of TITO, the growing sophistication of game and casino systems, the slow march toward server-based gaming, the advent of electronic table games, the evolution of marketing analytics, Internet and mobile gaming…the list is truly endless. From the operator perspective, I’ve seen the birth and nationwide spread of tribal gaming, the explosion of casino development in Macau and elsewhere throughout Asia, the transition from megaresorts to integrated casino developments, the rise, fall and rebirth of online gaming, poker and the resurgence of table game play and much, much more; all of which has impacted the product offerings and session content at G2E. 

This year’s G2E will likely stand out more than most, however, if for no other reason than to see the initial impact the unprecedented spate of supplier-side mergers and acquisitions is having on the event and the industry as a whole. A partial list of gaming companies directly impacted by this activity include International Game Technology (IGT), Bally Technologies, Aristocrat Technologies, GTECH, Scientific Games,  Global Cash Access (GCA), Multimedia Games, Video Gaming Technology (VGT) but really, the entire industry—both operator and vendor sides—will be sorting through the impact of recent M&A activity for some time to come. (See the cover story starting on page 26.)

As always at G2E, I will divide my time between attending sessions, visiting booths and going to vendor-sponsored parties and events (I know, a tough job but someone has to do it). Usually I find the booth visits of greatest value—it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up with old supplier-side friends while determining which new products will impact casino floors today and in the near future. My guess is these visits will have added importance this year.

However, I also have my eye on a number of interesting sessions I would like to attend. On Tuesday morning, I will probably sit in on “Know Your Customer: Behavioral Trends of American Gamblers,” which features market research findings from MMGY Global on the habits of American travelers, including typical gaming budgets, destinations visited and of interest to visit, how consumers plan, purchase and share information about their travel experiences, leisure-time interests and more. On Wednesday, I’ll try to find time for “Volume, Velocity, Variety: Conquering Big Data with Big Analytics,” at which SAS Institute will examine how to capture, analyze and drive insights at the speed of business when the data is larger, faster, and new. I will also try to drop by “The Freemium Principle: Making the Most of Social Gaming,” a session that will explore how some operators have turned social gaming into line item revenue either directly through virtual currencies or by creating a regular touch point for new and loyalty customers.

So as you can see, my dance card at G2E is very full. If I run into you at the show, please forgive me in advance for appearing to be a little rushed, these old legs just don’t move as fast as they used to.

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If you plan on attending G2E, keep an eye out for Megan Clemens, a recent graduate of DePaul University who has joined Casino Journal as associate editor. Offer words of encouragement; it will be her first G2E, and we all remember what that is like.