Gaming Conferences Remain On Schedule

25 September 2001

by Kevin Ferguson

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Sept. 25, 2001 --Three upcoming Las Vegas gaming conferences are moving forward, though the hijackings of two weeks ago have led to the cancellation or postponement of 256 other Las Vegas meetings and conventions.

The organizers of the Interactive Gaming Expo & Conference, Global Gaming Expo and World Gaming Congress say people have had enough time to mourn over the tragic events of Sept. 11.

"We had to make a responsible decision on whether to hold the event or cancel it," said Lorenz Hassenstein, industry vice president of Reed Exhibition, a co-partner with the American Gaming Association in the inaugural Global Gaming Expo planned for Oct. 1-3.

"It's our point-of-view that this industry lives and breathes on travel. And if we are flying to our event and supporting our industry and our show, there is no reason why you shouldn't fly to Las Vegas or any other gaming destination."

Las Vegas conference speaker and Playboy Enterprises Chairwoman and Chief Executive Christie Hefner, whose company has offices in New York but is headquartered in Chicago, said her staff has been using video-conferencing for internal meetings lately and cutting back on corporate travel to meet with each other.

She said, however, Playboy staff has not cut back on travel for meetings with clients or to go to conferences.

The daughter of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner plans to speak to two groups at the inaugural Interactive Gaming conference, which begins Wednesday evening and runs through Friday at Bellagio.

During a speech Thursday morning, Hefner plans to give a corporate overview of Playboy Enterprises to a group of investors and gaming analysts.

At Thursday's luncheon, Hefner, whose company includes various Internet gaming ventures, will discuss the company's business strategy in the online gaming arena.

"We think there is a large opportunity out there for online gaming, particularly for companies that have a strong entertainment entity and strong brand name," Hefner said in a Monday phone interview.

Playboy Online, a subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises, operates, an online fixed odds sports wagering site based in London,, a pari-mutual wagering site for horse racing, and, a cyber-casino based in the British colony of Gibraltar.

"Our approach has been to partner with companies that are leaders in their field and have the expertise and a gaming license in a favorable tax environment," Hefner said.

The Interactive Gaming Expo, which is hosted by the recently formed Interactive Gaming Institute of Nevada, has seen some decline in attendance expectations following the Sept. 11 hijackings, IGI Chief Executive Richard Fitzpatrick said.

The attendance projection has declined from roughly 500 people to about 300, he said.

The 15th annual World Gaming Congress, planned for Oct. 17-19 and sponsored by Gem Communications, is expecting 20,000 visitors, down about one-third from last year.

But the lower visitor count was expected not because of terrorism, but because of competition from GGE, World Gaming Congress organizers say.

"We were hoping for 500 exhibitors at the World Gaming Congress & Expo and we are sitting at 470 with a month to go," said Stephen Gibbs, the trade show's director of marketing. "The events of (two weeks ago) slowed us down a bit, but we're right back on track. We've lost maybe 1 percent because (people may have a fear of flying)."

Former Mirage Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn is expected to provide details of his 45-story planned megaresort on the Desert Inn site at the World Gaming Congress.

And Erin Brockovich, whose life was made into a popular motion-picture, will keynote at the World Gaming Congress at 9 a.m., Oct. 18.

Alex Yemenidjian, chairman and chief executive of movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, will be the keynote speaker Oct. 3 at the Global Gaming Expo. Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian controls both the MGM studio and the casino gambling company MGM MIRAGE.

Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg is also expected to speak to GGE attendees, but Hassenstein said show organizers were uncertain what she would talk about.

"Whoopi likes to ad lib," Hassenstein said.

Some 9,300 people are expected at GGE, up from initial projections of 8,000.

Related Links
Nevada Online Gambling
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2001
World Gaming Congress & Expo (WGCE) 2001
Interactive Gaming Exposition and Conference