Oh, no, not G2E, too? By Ken Adams, CDC Gaming Reports July 19, 2020 at 9:09 pm Unless you have been living under a rock or you’ve just arrived on a spaceship from a distant planet (and if you did, you might want to think about hopping back on that spaceship before you get too settled) you know the world is currently in the throes of a pandemic. Likely not since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 has the world seen an event like this – and, as was the case with the Black Death and the Spanish Flu, most of us do not understand the nature of the threat, the necessary precautions, or the potential cures. Instead, we are ruled by anxiety and fear, or by anger and resentment. Every day we read of confrontations between the masked and the unmasked, and no one is yet able to predict when and how the pandemic will end. Nor can anyone predict how many people may get sick, or how many will die. The number of known infections worldwide is moving toward 15 million, and the death toll has topped 600,000; one-fifth of known cases are in the United States. Unknowns to the side, however – and there are a lot of them, still – it’s easy to predict the likely cancellation of most upcoming annual events. In Reno, we have lost the Reno Rodeo, Hot August Nights, Burning Man, the Reno Balloon Races, Reno Aces baseball, and the National Air Races. Those events have been at the core of Reno’s summertime economic life for many years. None will happen in 2020. As both the summer and the virus have progressed, it has become clear that, barring the emergence of a miracle vaccine or treatment, no large public gatherings will be held for at least the remainder of 2020. One of the gaming industry’s major annual gatherings, Global Gaming Expo (G2E), is the latest casualty. G2E, of course, does not take place in Reno; its home is Las Vegas, the center of the gaming world. Gaming executives come from all over the world – approximately 30,000 of them last year – to see new slot machines and other types of gaming hardware and software on display. Slot displays, however, dominate the show, and slot manufacturers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to display their products in the best light. But G2E has much more than just slots, and all of the gaming industry’s vendors are there, showcasing the latest trends in technology, products, and service. A typical day at G2E begins with keynote speakers, panels of experts, and lectures that touch on all aspects of the gaming industry. After lunch, attendees migrate to the convention floor to see the year’s products and talk to their peers. After the show closes for the day, the third part of G2E begins: going to parties – lots of parties – and walking the floors of famous Las Vegas casinos. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the informal side of G2E, the walkabout, and the conversations. In the early days of my casino operations career, going to Las Vegas for the annual conference and trade show was an important part of my education. This was before G2E’s creation, but the events we attended were like G2E. Like other casino department managers I knew, I was promoted from within, from line work to supervision and, later, to management. There were no internships, university courses, training classes or established guidelines at the time. I knew only about the casino and department where I worked; if there were standards or best practices in place anywhere, they were kept secret from me and my cohorts. Managers were just expected to know what they needed to know. And others may well have known what to do. I, however, did not. Going to Vegas was a chance to learn. In Vegas, there were seminars, discussions on important topics, and keynote speakers talking about their companies, business models and vision. There were also people from all over the state, and some from abroad, with whom we could discuss issues. And then there were the tours. On at least two nights during our standard four-day stay in Las Vegas, the management team walked the floors of casinos on the Strip and downtown. In particular, we looked at slot machines. We looked for the new slots from the show, and we looked for successful ones. It was exhausting: we never finished before midnight, and sometimes not until three or four in the morning. There was so much to see and digest. Those trips did not, on their own, turn us into sophisticated, trained, professional managers, but they did expand our world view significantly and were essential to our career development. In the year of pandemic, everything is on hold, and G2E had to be rescheduled. The show will be back next year. The Olympics, concerts, new movie releases, vacations, and hundreds of other things will not happen, and it remains to be seen whether or not the relaunch of the NBA, the NHL and MLB will be successful. But the lack of G2E seems more important to me. For gaming executives, G2E is an essential yearly rite, a necessary part of keeping up with the industry. The best we can do now is hope that 2021 is a somewhat normal year, with sports played as they have always been played, people at work and children in school, and the gaming industry gathering in the fall in Las Vegas to look, learn and gossip.