2008 Global Gaming Expo, part 1

9 December 2008

The Global Gaming Expo has been a must on my yearly calendar ever since its inception in 2001. The American Gaming Association's annual trade show, which had its 2008 run Nov. 17-19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, has full days of conferences as well as a display floor of slotmakers, table games designers, chair manufacturers, security systems vendors and anyone else connected to the casino industry show off their products.

G2E is also a place to renew acquaintances with old friends and sources in the industry, and make new ones. In the next few weeks I'll be going over some of the latest and greatest games that you'll be seeing in the coming year, but let's kick things off with some of the other sights and sounds from the expo.

Challenges to the gaming industry and to the nation presented by the current financial situation were discussed by CNBC contributor Ron Insana, drawing on his decades of reporting on global economics and financial markets.

As Insana wrapped up his question-and-answer session, the final question turned into a long-winded speech extolling the benefits of Native American gaming. Insana answered, "My tribe is the Sicilians, and our experience in operating casinos didn't go so well."

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The Daily Gambling Writers Association had their annual dinner at the Strip Steak restaurant at Mandalay Bay at the south end of the Strip. We were joined for drinks beforehand by James Murren, who had just been named to take over Dec. 1 as chief executive officer of MGM Mirage.

This was a social gathering, not a press conference, and no one pressed Murren on serious issues. We had a few laughs at his tales of celebrities and their demands when playing at casino showrooms. No names were brought up, but requests for bowls of red-only M&Ms were on the mild side. More extreme was the demand for a wall to be built down the middle of a corridor from room to elevator so the star never had to encounter the public.

Back when I was doing a casino talk show on WCKG-FM in Chicago, we once broadcast from Mandalay Bay. We were in no position to make any celeb demands, of course, but if we were, I think I'd have asked for some full-pay Deuces Wild.

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I reserve one day's lunch for a stroll through the Food and Beverage suppliers' pavilion, sampling as I go. A shrimp here, a beef tenderloin bite there, a small scoop of chili at the other place, and before you know it, it's lunch.

Two of the most popular booths were right near the entrance, where customers were lined up on one side of the aisle for mini-hamburgers from Holten Meat, Inc., and on the other side for hot dogs from Nathan's Famous.

As I passed, one of the Holten's guys was chasing off a would-be line cutter, then looked back at the cooks. One had a Nathan's hot dog in hand. "You're eating a COMPETITOR'S product?" he yelled in a good-natured tease. The cook looked sheepish, but finished his hot dog.

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Victor Royer, my fellow columnist at Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, met me in the press room at the end of the final day of the show, looking as beat as I felt. We moved on for dinner at the Caravan Café at the Sahara, and he pulled out a survey he uses in his work as a consultant on slot player preferences.

I knew it was coming and had agreed to take the survey home. I didn't realize it was a five-pound monster. It pushed my suitcase just overweight, and I was ready to take it out and lug it around, but the woman at American Airlines curbside check in was kind enough not to charge the extra fee.

It was great to see Victor, though, along with a number of others. Monica Kaisley, the former marketing director at Horseshoe Hammond was there, working with sister Maggie at the Kirandt Group of casino consultants. While I was talking with John Daley, the director of video poker at International Game Technology, Jef Bauer stopped by to say hello. Jef, who had been vice president of marketing for Majestic Star resorts after a number of years in the Harrah's organization, is now working in Colorado.

At the IGT booth, I ran into both Larry DeMar and his brother Steve of Northbrook, Ill., based Leading Edge Design. Leading Edge is the creator of the Multi-Strike and Wild Tiles games, we'll look at a new game in each line in a couple of weeks.

When I went back to see table games inventor Ya Awada at his Gaming Entertainment Inc. booth, I was surprised to see Olaf Vancura working with him. Vancura is not only co-author with Ken Fuchs of Knockout Blackjack, but also when working for Mikohn came up with some of my favorite slot machine bonus events, the round with elements of skill and/or knowledge in Battleship, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, Clue and others. They'll make quite a team.

Related Links
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2008

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.