G2E: A Glimpse of Things to Come

22 September 2004

For Tony Spier, Global Gaming Expo determines company production schedules as well as chances of breakaway success in the coming year.

Spier, chief executive officer of McCook, Ill.-based Wells-Gardner Electronics Corp., said the annual G2E show is "absolutely critical" to the success of his small manufacturing and distribution company, which specializes in color video monitors and video liquid-crystal displays for gaming machines and coin-operated video games.

"Our customers are the main manufacturers like Aristocrat and WMS (Gaming). For them, G2E is very critical. What makes G2E critical for us is not how well we do, but how well they do," he said.

"From the show come all the new themes, and that often determines how well the manufacturers do for the next 12 months. If Aristocrat and WMS, for example, sell well, that helps us tremendously," Spier said.

This year's show is Oct. 5-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Last year, Spier said Aristocrat and WMS used G2E as a platform to accelerate their sales faster than their major competitors, and that proved the basis of Wells-Gardner's performance through the year, he said.

Spier predicted the coming year will be good for the major manufactures, based on new games being unveiled, and also for their suppliers, such as Wells-Gardner, which has $50 million in sales a year.

But the show is critical to the bigger companies, too.

Reno-based International Game Technology, Las Vegas-based Alliance Gaming and Australia-based Aristocrat are each expected to debut more than 100 new gaming machine themes at this year's G2E.

IGT spokesman Ed Rogich said the show is valuable for his company, the world's largest maker of slot machines, because it is the one chance it has to bring together all its customers and show them what the future holds in the coming year.

"No other trade show brings about the depth of attendees that are attracted by G2E," Rogich said. "There are some strong regional shows, but this show has a deep national and international reach (like no other)."

G2E is so important that he said IGT schedules its production schedule around the trade show.

"Every year, it's an opportunity to show what we've been working on," Rogich said. "It creates a timeline for us to create the new lines we can debut at the show. Our whole production schedule revolves around the G2E event."

Marcus Prater, spokesman for Alliance Gaming and its Bally Gaming and Systems division, said G2E commands attention because it pulls the whole industry together from around the world.

Bally, he said, offers a full range of gaming products and G2E is the one chance Alliance has to show off its entire line of gaming devices and computer systems to a worldwide audience.

"We like to think there aren't that many companies in the entire industry that have this full range (including slot systems, wide area progressives, Class II devices and video lotteries) for every market," Prater said.

"Without G2E, we'd have to depend on smaller regional shows and we'd have to piecemeal out our message," he said. "We do go to these other shows, but they don't carry the weight that G2E does. G2E brings the entire industry together."

G2E, which is organized by the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions, made its debut in fall 2001, and bills itself as the international gaming trade show and conference "by the industry and for the industry."

G2E emerged from the 2001 merger of two gaming trade shows, the original Global Gaming Expo and World Gaming Congress and Expo.

This year, interest in G2E is at an all-time high, thanks to the growth of the industry and the strength of the trade show.

"It's nothing short of gangbusters," association Senior Vice President Judy Patterson said. "We're breaking nearly every record and we were proud of the show last year."

This year, the American Gaming Association is projecting 24,000 to 26,000 attendees at the show, compared with 22,700 attendees at the show last year, according to audit figures provided by the trade association, she said.

Similarly, G2E will be spread out over 255,000 square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center, compared with 217,000 square feet last year and 133,000 square feet the first year, Patterson said.

"The numbers are really reflecting the overall growth in the industry, from international attendees to Native American attendees," she said.

In addition, Patterson said the association is working with Reed Exhibitions to reinvent the show with the addition of new events each year that reflect the gaming industry's evolution.

This year, there will be a particular focus on food and beverage. The opening keynote event will showcase the Neon Chefs competition, a new event at G2E featuring two teams of Las Vegas chefs in a live competition modeled after The Food Network's popular Iron Chef series. On Oct. 6, CNN talk-show host Larry King will reprise his role as moderator of the popular state of the industry keynote panel.

The state of the industry roundtable discussion will feature a panel of gaming industry leaders, including American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf, MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni, Harrah's Entertainment President Gary Loveman and National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens.

Related Links
Nevada Gambling
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2004

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