LAS VEGAS – Monday was the kickoff for this year’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, and in some ways, it felt as if we were back in time. Say, like three years or so.
After just 13,000 industry professionals attended and 233 companies had exhibits at last year’s expo, which was still under some COVID-19 restrictions, the numbers for this year’s convention at The Venetian Expo were up sharply.
More than 350 companies were setting up their spaces Monday in the Expo Hall. That opens Tuesday morning after the keynote session featuring six top gaming industry executives. Korbi Carrison, G2E event vice president for Reed Exhibitions, told reporters companies will be displaying new slot machine games and cabinets, digital payment platforms, and iGaming and sports betting platforms.
This looks a lot like 2019 did,” Carrison said. “One difference is that the energy this year is off the charts compared to 2019. Of course, we weren’t expecting the events that happened after that.”
Reed Exhibitions organizes the event in conjunction with the American Gaming Association. (AGA).
Last year G2E resumed as an in-person event after the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to go virtual-only in 2020. The 2021 conference also featured virtual elements as well.
As registrations were still being processed, organizers did not have a number of attendees to share with reporters on Monday. Still, they’re hopeful attendance will be closer to the 2019 event, which drew more than 27,000 people.
Conventions Not 100% Back in Vegas Yet
If G2E 2022 ends up drawing close to its 2019 numbers, then it would be ahead of the pace in terms of Las Vegas’ recovery from COVID-19.
According to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, convention totals are up significantly from 2021. However, it’s not back yet to pre-pandemic levels.
In August, Vegas attracted 406,500 convention attendees. That’s up 20.5% from August 2021. However, it’s 38.2% lower than what the region drew in convention traffic three years ago. For the first eight months of the year, nearly 3.2 million convention visitors have come to Las Vegas. That’s down from 4.7 million over the same period in 2019, a 32.4% decrease.
Overall visitation is down, too, but not quite as much. Through August, the area has attracted 25.3 million tourists. Still, that’s about 3.1 million – or 11.1% – fewer than in the first eight months of 2019.
Gaming leaders though, see a full recovery on the horizon. At a Deutsche Bank conference last month, MGM Resorts International CFO Jonathan Halkyard said his company is seeing a “return to normalcy” that looks like it will continue well into next year.
Keynotes for Tuesday and Wednesday
Tuesday’s events will start with AGA President and CEO Bill Miller giving the state of the industry address. Following that, Bally’s Corp. Chairman Soo Kim, Penn Entertainment CEO and President Jay Snowden, Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings, Circa Resort and Casino Owner and CEO Derek Stevens, FanDuel CEO Amy Howe, and DraftKings cofounder and CEO Jason Robins will take the stage for a keynote roundtable.
Kim and Snowden will talk about the regional market in gaming. Billings and Stevens will discuss the state of gaming in Nevada and Las Vegas. Howe and Robins will share their thoughts on where iGaming and sports betting is heading.
On Wednesday, Las Vegas Raiders President Sandra Douglass Morgan and Barstool Sports CEO Erika Ayers Nardini will speak with Miller. The conversation will focus on the evolving relationship between sports and gaming.