Gaming convention begins amid economic downturn

By Amanda Finnegan, Las Vegas Sun
19 November 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Global Gaming Expo kicked off its eighth annual convention Tuesday morning at the Las Vegas Convention Center. G2E is expected to bring in an estimated 30,000 gaming professionals from around the world, despite the harsh economic times the industry is facing.

American Gaming Association chief executive officer Frank Fahrenkopf told reporters in a media briefing Tuesday morning that companies are seeing two main problems: banks are unwilling to lend money at favorable interest rates to build projects and consumers are spending less on gambling and entertainment at casinos.

The industry's revenue was down nationwide in the third quarter by 4.6 percent compared with the same period a year ago, Fahrenkopf said.

The trade show and conference for the international gaming community hits Las Vegas less than a week after the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported a 10 percent drop in visitors to the city. The LVCVA also reported an 18 percent drop in conventions.

Fahrenkopf said this year's convention will focus on challenging economic times and the effects on the industry.

Former CNBC senior analyst Ron Insana addressed industry professionals on the current state of the markets and his predictions for the future.

"Not only are industries deleveraging … but consumers themselves are aggressively deleveraging and may continue to do so for a little bit longer than what we would like," Isana told a room of gaming industry leaders.

Execs and professionals attended sessions dealing with gaming in harsh political environments, compliance and regulation, and casino design and innovation.

Although Fahrenkopf said he expects fewer attendees at this year's event because of companies cutting back, the exhibition floor had no shortage of visitors.

G2E cut the ribbon for both its gaming, and food and beverage showroom at noon Tuesday, giving attendees access to 750 exhibitors showcasing the latest technology for the upcoming year. Gaming officials tested out everything from new slots to virtual sports books to the latest in ticket redemption.

On the food and beverage show floor, convention-goers sampled the latest creations in the culinary world, sampling everything from salads to after-dinner mints. Beverage distributors like Patron and Classic Wines of California handed out samples to tasters.

Wednesday's conference will kick off with a "State of the Industry" keynote address on the evolution of global gaming. Fahrenkopf will lead a discussion with recently retired MGM Mirage CEO Terry Lanni, Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman and Olympic Entertainment Group chairman Armin Karu.

Related Links
American Online Gambling
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2008

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