Say the acronym “G2E” to most people in the casino industry, and the thing that most likely pops into their mind is the event’s massive trade show floor and the plethora of new and exciting products and technologies on display. I don’t fault industry people for thinking this; after all, it is the reason why so many people likely go the Global Gaming Expo—a chance to glimpse the gaming products of the future, and perhaps get in early on the next big thing that will transform the casino floor or resort enterprise.

Of course, there are those whose primary reason for attending G2E is not product-oriented. Sure, they’ll peruse the trade show floor, but their interest in the event has more to do with meetings and networking than booth visits and buying. Indeed, G2E is the one domestic gaming exposition that attracts top executives from across the United States and around the world. From my experience, the amount of relationship building that gets done at G2E is truly amazing, the byproduct of having such a wide range of gaming personnel in one place at one time.

Unfortunately, what often gets lost in the wash of the G2E experience is the third reason why some attend the show—to learn. These are the people that arrive a day early and pay for the privilege to attend education programs centered on topics such as compliance, iGaming, security and responsible gaming. They’re also the ones dragging themselves out of bed after a night on the party circuit to attend early morning sessions before the show floor opens. They are a small crew (at least compared to the attendance on the trade show floor and at social events) but dedicated; I’ve been attending G2E session and seminars for over 20 years now and often recognize the same faces in the crowd.

The other thing I have noticed as well is how many people I see at the parties and the booths that do not attend sessions. I know part of the reason for this is cost, but I also feel this is because a lot of executives, once they reach a certain level, feel there is nothing to gain from the educational seminars. There are times I have run into someone whose field of expertise was the subject of a session they did not attend, and when I ask them why the reply is often something dismissive like “I can’t learn anything from that,” or “that’s for newcomers,” or “I had something to do that was more important,” or “that is not what I am here for.”

In some ways I understand this attitude… god knows I have sat through my share of dry, misguided or uninspired seminars that I couldn’t wait to end.  But I have found these experiences to be few and far between—indeed, no matter what the supposed “level” of the session, I often walk away with some bit of valuable knowledge or an insight that I had not thought of before that becomes the focal point of a future feature article or column.

So as in previous years, I will attend a good number of sessions at G2E, especially those with topics centered on bringing Millennials and social gamers into the casino resort fold. Will I see you there?