2006 Global Gaming Expo Report - Part 1

5 December 2006

Each year after the Global Gaming Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I write about the latest and greatest games that have been introduced at the show, games that we'll be seeing in the coming year.

But there's more to the casino industry's annual extravaganza than just seeing new slot machines --- though things like WMS Gaming's new transmissive LCD screen and IGT's Guaranteed Play video poker concept will be fun to explore with you in the next few weeks. G2E is a conference as well as a trade show, with panels of experts discussing issues important to the gaming industry. And after hours, it's a place for casino executives, game manufacturers, chair vendors and, yes, even writers from around the world to relax, socialize and have a bit of fun.

This year's G2E ran Nov. 14-16. Along the way, I visited the booths of 17 slot manufacturers, at least half a dozen table games designers, and found time for a few extras too. In the next few weeks, I'll focus on the latest and greatest in games. But for starters, lets take a spin through a few of the scenes away from the vendors' floor.

**Part of the G2E experience is taking in the parties thrown each year by some of the leading game manufacturers. I went to two, starting with the one given by A.C. Coin, the slotmaker known for its innovative use of slot machine top boxes with its Slotto and Big Roller series. A.C. Coin's party was at the Bali Hai golf club, south of Mandalay Bay, and it was a bash and a half. I ran into Resorts East Chicago Joe DeRosa and his wife Vicki --- she was my instructor when I went to dealers' school for a magazine article a number of years ago.

Along with fine food served buffet style by Cili, the golf club's restaurant, there was music by Otis Day and the Knights. If you've seen "Animal House," you know Otis and his "Shama Lama Ding-Dong." "Otis! My man," indeed.

A couple of nights after A.C. Coin catered to hundreds, table games designer Ya Awada and his Gaming Entertainment Inc. hosted a smaller party for perhaps 100 at a private room in the Nine steak house at the Palms. Gaming Entertainment owns the game 3-5-7 Poker, which has carved out a growing niche, and has a fun new game called Duki 4 Poker, which I'll be writing about in a few weeks.

Awada, a former World Series of Poker seven-card stud champion, put on a champion feast. Big trays on ice with split lobster tails, Alaskan King crab legs, enormous shrimp, clams, oysters and mussels --- and that was just the appetizer. Guests could then choose from a menu with three steak choices, lamb chops or salmon. I spent much of the evening talking with games analyst Stanley Ko, who does the math that many table games manufacturers use for their submissions when they seek regulatory approval for their games. A fascinating evening.

**Walking down the back aisles of the display floor, I was stopped by someone taking a survey asking attendees to name an issue they thought was important to the gaming industry. Results were tallied instantly, with a pie chart showing the numbers. A large majority of those surveyed responded with the future of gaming in China. That's not surprising, with Macau having become one of the hottest gaming markets in the world.

Casino operators see opportunity in Asia, and so do manufacturers of gaming equipment. At a panel discussion, Shuffle Master chairman Mark Yoseloff said he saw a bright future in Asia for electronic multiplayer table games --- still uncommon in the United States, but in widespread use overseas.

"The expansion in Macau is going to require the hiring of 25,000 more dealers," he told those attending the panel. "There is going to be a labor shortage over there."

** Also on the conference side, a panel on Internet gaming took aim at the port security bill that President Bush signed into law on Oct. 13. Though the rest of the bill had no relation to the gaming industry, a rider was attached that makes it illegal for financial institutions to handle transactions for some --- but not all --- forms of Internet wagering.

Terry Lanni, chief executive officer of MGM Mirage and a member of the panel, said. "It makes no sense whatsoever. Prohibition didn't work, this isn't going to work."

The law exempts horse racing, lotteries and online wagering when the bets are placed from Native American lands. That odd collection had both attorneys on the panel and Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance, shaking their heads. Bolcerek said he believes his organization helped make a difference in the recent election, and hopes Congress will re-address the issue. I. Nelson Rose, an attorney who has written regularly about gaming issues for many years, said, "It's a public embarrassment," adding that he thinks eventually the law will be amended to make an exception for online poker.

Given the sheer numbers of Internet poker players, that's one issue that is certain to stay hot when G2E 2007 rolls around.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.

Related Links
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2006

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.