Everything old is new again” is a common enough saying with a kernel of intrinsic truth at its core—wait a long enough period of time, and something you once experienced and has since become passé will be new and popular to a whole different group of people.
You tend to see this a lot in fashion where everything is truly cyclical; in my lifetime alone, I have seen the counterculture clothes and style of the late 1960s revived a countless number of times, seemingly by each succeeding generation.
For those of us who have been involved with the casino industry for 20 years or more, we are now witnessing a similar revival with table games. A decade ago, casino-based table games appeared to be on the brink of extinction, its floor space increasingly diminished in order to house much more profitable slot machines. Today, however, table game play is back on the uptick, especially among younger players (Gex X, Gen Y and Millennials) who seek non-slot social gaming experiences, and increasingly affluent Asian customers who have always preferred tables over other forms of casino wagering.
In response, casino operators appear to be devoting more time, space and energy to table games, increasing pit size to include a wider variety of games and even adopting electronic table games and other new, easier-to-operate, customer-friendly formats.
So no better time then now for the annual Cutting Edge Table Games Conference, co-produced by Raving Consulting Company and BNP Media Gaming Group, which is scheduled to take place Nov. 17-19 at The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. At its heart, the conference is primarily about education, and the speaker lineup for this year’s event is filled with some of the best known table game experts and operators in the industry.
“This year’s Cutting Edge Table Games Conference program offers attendees an in-depth treatment of top- and bottom-line building ideas across their table games operation,” said Dennis Conrad, president and chief relationship officer for Raving Consulting. “We have assembled a first-rate group of speakers, many of whom are well known in the table games world, and all of whom are leaders at what they do.”
The list of confirmed speakers includes: Derk Boss, gaming security, surveillance and loss prevention consultant; Steve Browne, president, Raving Service; Anthony Curtis, publisher, Huntington Press and the Las Vegas Advisor; Garry Hamud, president, Inventive Gaming Group; Jim Kilby, gaming consultant and author; Sean McCreery, senior vice president, casino operations, The Venetian and The Palazzo; Mike May, vice president of table operations, Pechanga Resort & Casino; Bob Nersesian, players’ attorney and author of Beat the Players: Casinos, Cops and the Game Inside the Game; Max Rubin, gaming personality, author of Comp City, and exclusive consultant to Barona Resort and Casino; Robert Saucier, CEO, Galaxy Gaming; London Swinney, vice president, casino operations, MGM Grand Las Vegas; TJ Tejeda, principal, Talisman Group; Johnny Walker, director of gaming operations, Muckleshoot Indian Casino; Dr. David Schwartz, director, UNLV Center for Gaming Research; and Alan W. Zajic, gaming security consultant, AWZ Consulting.
The conference will kick off with a day-long advantage player pre-conference workshop. Today’s advantage players use strong and innovative ways to legally beat casino table games. While casino personnel are often well-trained to identify ordinary blackjack card counters, advantage players using more sophisticated methods are going unnoticed. The truth is that every table game has uniquevulnerabilities that can make it a target for advantage players. In this ground-breaking one-day seminar, advantage play experts Bill Zender and Eliot Jacobson will cover a wide range of methods that advanced advantage players are using to legally beat casino table games. Attendees will learn the games they are targeting and how they’re doing it. They will learn how to identify, protect and defend table games against the strategies and tactics used by modern advantage players.
Following the advantage player workshop will be two full days of sessions. The main conference program will begin with Dr. David Schwartz’s 3rd Annual Table Games Report, compiled by the UNLV Center for Gaming Research. Developed exclusively for this event, the Table Games Reportgathers an array of available worldwide table game statistical information, identifies trends, and attempts to answer a number of questions such as: Are table games making a comeback, and is it at the expense of slot revenues? Is it all about baccarat? What about the North American table game staples of blackjack, roulette and craps? Are new table games gaining any traction, and where might that be occurring?
New additions to the program include a two-part session entitled, “Threats From Both Inside and Outside—Scams, Cheats, Collusions and Other Current Table Game Situations That Eat Away at Profitability and Player Trust.” No one can deny that the table game environment has vulnerabilities and other circumstances that require vigilance, protection and procedures. But what are those situations—the real, current, critically important situations—where today’s savvy table game operators should be focusing their attention? In this eessential session, session, two of the most knowledgeable and experienced security and surveillance experts in the gaming industry will turn their attention to “the pit” and highlight the most current and pervasive issues from both “inside” and “outside,” and what operators should be doing about them to increase hold and protect that most valuable of assets, the legitimate customer.
Also new this year are two signature sessions led by noted table games authority Jim Kilby; one of which will explore table game discounts and the other which will look at table game management practices.
In addition to a top-notch conference program, the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference is also known for its Best New Table Games competition that offers the winning game a trial at four casinos nationally.
The Best New Table Games Competition, presented by this magazine, is designed to recognize new table games and their inventors, companies and promoters, whose new games, as judged by casino table game operators and marketing executives, have the best combination of player appeal, ease of understanding, and potential commercial success.
The winner of the Best New Table Games Competition will, assuming the necessary licensing and regulatory requirements are satisfied, receive floor space at Bucky’s Casino; Grey Eagle Casino (Canada); Muckleshoot Indian Casino; and Saratoga Casino Black Hawk.
“The Best New Table Games contest is the centerpiece of our three-day event, which has become the premier table games conference in the industry,” Conrad said. “Our attendees consistently tell us they like having the ability to see the new table games that will be hitting the market; they can’t do that in such a dedicated fashion with such an extensive focus anywhere else.”
There are 25 games entered in the contest, represented by 21 companies. Exhibitors at the conference will have dedicated “play time” during the opening night reception and all networking breaks between sessions. Attendees, namely table game operators and other casino executives from across the casino industry, will be encouraged to participate and cast a vote. The winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be announced Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 19. Additionally, Galaxy Gaming, sponsor of the Table Games Conference, will be offering the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of Casino Journal’s Best New Table Games of 2014 Competition additional benefits and development services.
The Cutting Edge Table Games Conference also includes a trade show floor offering the latest games and services from noted table games providers (see section starting on page 44), and a host of networking activities including an opening night reception sponsored by Bally Technologies and a tour of the high-limit table games area at Caesars Palace.
Complete conference details and registration information are available at www.tablegamesconf.com.