Velotta: Scheduling change was the right move for G2E
Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau
VEGAS INC Coverage
If it seems a little early for the nation’s gaming industry to be in town for the annual Global Gaming Expo, it’s because it is a little early.
Ever since Comdex, the monstrous computer industry trade show, died of unnatural causes in 2003, the American Gaming Association has owned the second week of November to stage the world’s largest gambling industry event at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
While it was great that Las Vegas had a high-profile convention in a prime-time calendar slot, the timing of G2E, as it is known, wasn’t ideal for the industry.
G2E is the grand buffet of casino technology with more than 250 exhibitors showing hundreds of slot machines, security devices and casino innovations on a convention floor the size of nearly three football fields.
But the problem with the mid-November date was that casino companies were locking up their budgets for the coming year and it was too late to get in on some of the things the vendors were showing.
The date was also problematic for some exhibitors who participate in gaming industry shows in Europe, South America and Asia. Relocating the show to early October spaces the shows out over the calendar, a relief to vendors who want to meet customers in all corners of the world.
The way the American Gaming Association views it, the timing of the show is an improvement. It also appears to be better for industry professionals planning to attend. G2E attendance increased last year by 4 percent over 2009, and it’s likely more than 25,000 people will show up this year when the event also changes location to the Venetian. It runs through Oct. 6.
The timing also is better to address recent developments in the battle to legalize online poker.
Highlights of G2E include the dozens of panel discussions and debates on hot topics in the industry. This year, more than 100 sessions are scheduled, and G2E is breaking out a special series of presentations on the potential effects of legal online gambling.
Months ago, G2E organizers assumed that the online poker issue would be a compelling topic. Recent events will make it even more interesting.
When federal prosecutors in New York accused Full Tilt Poker operators of conducting a global Ponzi scheme and defrauding player customers of $440 million, it sent a shock wave through the online poker community.
The complaint said Full Tilt “defrauded players by misrepresenting that their funds on deposit in online gambling accounts were safe, secure and available for withdrawal at any time.
“In reality, Full Tilt Poker did not maintain funds sufficient to repay all players and in addition, the company used player funds to pay board members and other owners more than $440 million since April 2007,” the complaint said.
Some insiders see the accusation as the kiss of death for online poker. Several politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have returned contributions from Full Tilt to distance themselves from the brewing scandal.
Others view the allegations as one reason online poker should be legalized — specifically, so government regulators can closely monitor it. Supporters of the legalization and regulation of online poker often mention the potential for tax revenue at a time when the government is having so much trouble balancing its budget and filling deficit holes.
Potential federal legalization came up a week ago when Nevadans got their first opportunity to comment on proposed regulations on the oversight of online poker drafted by the state Gaming Control Board.
The regulations generated little controversy, and it appears they’ll be approved by December.
How do industry leaders view the most recent developments? I look forward to hearing their assessments. I can’t wait to see if keynote speaker Penn Jillette and American Gaming Association President and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf have anything to say.
It’s clear that the timing of this show is just right.
If federal lawmakers see the value in placing the regulation of online poker in capable hands, Nevada will be ready to regulate it, and online poker can proceed full tilt.