Pandemic concerns force cancellation of G2E in Las Vegas; organizers plan virtual events Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · July 8, 2020 at 1:00 pm Organizers of the Global Gaming Expo canceled the casino industry’s largest conference and tradeshow Wednesday due to the continued concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, representatives of the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions committed to holding a series of virtual G2E events throughout the rest of the year to provide economic, education, and networking opportunities for the global gaming industry. AGA CEO Bill Miller said current conditions brought about by COVID-19, including “continued uncertainty around a viable marketplace at a physical G2E show, global travel restrictions, and currently unknown guidance on large public gatherings this fall,” forced organizers to halt the conference for the first time in 20 years. “We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that we simply cannot hold an in-person G2E this year,” Miller said. G2E was planned for October 5-8 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Organizers said they have scheduled the 2021 G2E from October 4-7 at the Sands Expo. Current Nevada state regulations ban public gatherings of 50 people or more and additional guidance for future reopening phases is not yet available. Nevada has also seen a spike of COVID-19 infections. “Health and safety have always been our top priority and the uncertainty created by the ongoing pandemic makes this the prudent decision ahead of critical deadlines for exhibitors planning to participate,” Miller said. G2E attracts nearly 30,000 attendees annually from across the globe, including top executives and managers from the industry’s largest manufacturers and gaming equipment providers. The world’s top casino operators, sports betting companies, and FinTech and digital payments facilitators, are often represented at G2E. The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers is also involved with the conference. The coronavirus pandemic caused a nationwide shutdown of the gaming industry beginning in mid-March when governors, regulators, and tribal governments ordered the closures of nearly 1,000 casinos in 43 states in an effort to slow the COVID-19 spread. Casinos began reopening in late May and as of this week, close to 85% of the gaming industry had reopened. On Monday, however, Churchill Downs “temporarily suspended” operations at the Calder Casino in Miami Gardens – three weeks following its reopening – after government officials ordered entertainment venues to close due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the South Florida area. Nevada casinos reopened on June 4, but with reduced occupancy levels and health, safety, and cleaning protocols. Facial coverings or masks are required to be worn in all public spaces, including casinos. Because of limits on mass gatherings, Las Vegas’ convention and meetings business have all but evaporated. The cancellation of G2E follows the postponements of other gaming conferences, including the National Indian Gaming Association conference in San Diego, ICE North America in New Orleans, and several sports betting conferences. In the past week, the World Game Protection Conference and the International Center for Responsible Gaming’s (ICRG) Conference on Gambling and Addiction – both of which were scheduled around G2E – canceled their shows. ICRG said it would turn its conference into a virtual event. “We arrived at this decision after thoughtfully engaging with national, state, and local public health authorities, as well as exhibitors and buyers who have shared industry observations and priorities,” Reed Exhibitions Americas President Hervé Sedky said in a statement. “Ultimately, it became clear that proceeding with an in-person gathering simply was not feasible.” Miller said the U.S. casino industry has been adapting its operating procedures to provide “the safest possible experience for our employees and customers.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.