Wrapping Up the G2E

13 December 2005

Ever since the Global Gaming Expo in September, I've been relaying to you the games we can expect to see in the coming months on the slots and on the tables, noting trends toward multi-level progressive slots and using Hold'em as a base for new video poker and table games.

It takes more than games to operate a casino, and the Future Watch survey of casino professionals taken at the expo tries to get a read on just where the industry is headed.

One major trend over the last decade has been for casino operators to make the most out of revenue sources beyond the casino floor. In Las Vegas, one addition to the revenue stream has been the development of condominiums and time share units associated with casino resorts. The Hard Rock in Las Vegas has recently sent out announcements for its Bungalow Residence Flats, with studio and one-bedroom condos starting at $480,000.

Me, I'll stick to whatever hotel rooms I can get comped for a Las Vegas visit, but if you can sell a studio apartment for $480,000, why not?

Development of condos and time shares is one trend respondents to the Future Watch survey expect to continue. Forty-two percent of the executives surveyed said the developments will definitely have a positive impact on the industry, and another 53 percent said they probably will have a positive impact --- a total of 95 percent on the positive side.

The one drawback cited was that 26 percent were concerned the developments might place downward pressure on standard hotel room rates.

Among other survey items, 58 percent of respondents said they expect the importance of non-gaming amenities to increase, and no respondents expected a decrease. Forty-seven percent said they expected markets outside Las Vegas to narrow the gap in diversity and quality of amenities. Among the amenities mentioned were full-service spas, where 95 percent expected to be available outside Las Vegas and Atlantic City within five to 10 years and restaurants with signature chefs, expected by 53 percent.

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On the first day of the expo, I took time to attend a panel moderated by Larry King on how Las Vegas has changed over the years. It was quite the panel, with entertainers Wayne Newton, Rita Rudner and Clint Holmes, boxing commentator Al Bernstein and Cirque du Soleil director and producer Franco Dragone.

They talked about improved public transportation, and about Las Vegas having evolved from a town where Sammy Davis Jr. couldn't stay in the hotels where he performed to one where Holmes, at Harrah's, is the first African-American to have a showroom named for him. They talked about the new trend toward building theaters and bringing Broadway shows to Las Vegas, and about the excitement of major boxing nights.

And while Newton may be the king of Las Vegas entertainers, Rudner got in a jab when King opened discussion on entertainers who entice people to come to Las Vegas.

All agreed that Barbra Streisand is one performer people will fly to Las Vegas to see. Then Newton said that whenever he's playing, he has people tell him they came just to see him. To which Rudner cracked, "But you fly them in on your private jet."

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Before we leave the Global Gaming Expo for another year --- in 2006, it runs Nov. 14-16 --- I wanted to take a last look back at new slot machines for a couple of things that don't really fit any trends or categories.

Konami Gaming is trying to give us something different, reaching beyond traditional paylines with its KonXion series of video slots. The screen shows a honeycomb pattern with interlocking hexagons arranged so you can count vertical columns of three, four, three, four, and three symbols. You're not looking for symbols to line up across reels, you're looking for symbols that connect in any direction, starting from any space.

Testing the game Dynasty of the Rising Sun, I quickly found myself looking for the golden pagoda. It was a wild symbol, and if it landed in the center position of the middle column, I knew I had a good chance at a KonXion, if not two or three. It was good fun, with novelty value as well as a good hit frequency.

A.C. Coin, meanwhile, went musical with its new offerings. The latest Slotto game is It's Raining Cash --- the Weather Girls' song "It's Raining Men" has been reworked into an "It's Raining Cash" song that plays as Slotto balls shower over an umbrella in the top.

The company also has a line of Big Roller games --- the first, Bankroll, has the look of sheets of money rolling off a printing press. At G2E, A.C. coin debuted Jackpot Fantasy Queen and Bonus Party. Jackpot Fantasy Queen's roller is dominated by purples and characters in heavy makeup --- almost a Cirque du Soleil look. The music? It's Queen, of course, with "Bohemian Rhapsody." Bonus Party goes the celebration route with "Shout!" as the scene rolls through toga party, poker party and pool party.

Like the Slotto games, the Big Roller games shout out "Play me!" with visual excitement and fun.

Related Links
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2005

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.