October 16, 2023
The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2023, was held in Las Vegas over last week, drawing more than 25,000 gaming professionals from more than 125 countries to Sin City. Organized by the American Gaming Association (AGA) and RX, the event spanned from October 7 to 12.
The 23rd edition of G2E covered an expansive exhibition space of over 269,000 square feet, hosting 368 exhibitors. This year’s event was particularly significant, as the famous Nevada casino venues on the Las Vegas Strip have been seeing a surge in visitors and revenues in 2023.
The Expo hosted a series of keynote speeches from top gambling executives, including CEOs of top-dog sports betting operators FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as leaders from MGM Resorts International and Entain, who partner to provide BetMGM online services.
As well as speeches, the 300 gambling operators present at G2E displayed their latest wares and games. That included the first look at Light & Wonder’s upcoming Squid Game slot machine with Netflix, previews of the full range of Aristocrat’s NFL-branded slots, and IGT’s upcoming Whitney Houston-branded music slots.
“Gaming is stronger than ever, and the products and ideas displayed at G2E this week will enhance our industry’s offerings not just here in Las Vegas, but around the world,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller at the event.
CEO Keynotes: Insights and Forecasts
Amy Howe of FanDuel and Jason Robins of DraftKings may be rivals for the number one U.S. sportsbook title, but last Wednesday, they jointly addressed the crowd in Las Vegas.
The two spoke on the situation with daily fantasy sports right now, as well as the wider U.S. sport betting market. They confirmed that neither party has received formal cease and desist notices in Florida, New York, or Michigan – the three states where regulators are cracking down on DFS operations that stray to close to sports betting.
Neither seemed unduly worried about the news, but they both said they’d appreciate more clarification.
“We want to be able to compete, so we want to be able to offer the same things that anyone else out there offers. Then once you do that, it’s competitive and great for the consumer and whoever has the best experience, that’s the best operation comes out on top,” said Robins.
“So I think for us, you know, having clarity on what we can do, what we can’t do, is important. And I think the same goal should be applied to everybody.”
MGM’s CEO on Cyberattacks and Online Potential
Meanwhile, Bill Hornbuckle, CEO of MGM Resorts, provided insights into the challenges faced by the company in recent weeks. That understandably included some talk of the recent cyberattack that hit the company, which ended up costing it over $100 million in damages.
Hornbuckle said he was proud of his company’s response. It refused to pay out a ransom to cyberattackers, unlike rival Las Vegas-based operator Caesars Entertainment. Despite the setback for MGM, the biggest U.S. gambling operator, Hornbuckle believes his company did the right thing.
“We’re proud of what we did. We did not pay ransom, not that that’s the defining moment in one of these things,” he said, during his G2E interview.
“I know people say don’t pay a ransom. But the way this came at us and the velocity at which it came at us, we reacted quickly. We protected data. We find ourselves now a couple of weeks into this thing fully functioning.”
Lastly, Jette Nygaard-Andersen of European operator Entain discussed the strength of their and MGM’s online betting partnership, BetMGM.
“It is a great marriage. And we work really well together,” she said.
“The combination of intense technology and experience from online sports betting and iGaming across the world with MGM’s brand, omnichannel experience, and their reward database– it’s a really, really strong combination. We work really well together, and we’re fully focused on what we want to achieve.”
When asked about rumors that the collaboration could end sometime soon with MGM submitting another multibillion bid to buy out Entain, Nygaard-Andersen remained tight-lipped.
“Now, I get it, joint ventures don’t last forever. But for now, it’s not something that we need to solve for,” she said.
New Releases Shine
As well as CEO speeches and insight, visitors to the G2E Convention were treated to a whole host of previews of brand new slot machines and other casino games. That included brand-new games by Aristocrat, IGT, and Light & Wonder.
Light & Wonder unveiled its latest slot machine, inspired by the globally popular Netflix series Squid Game. The $400,000 jackpot slot game is themed around the macabre and deadly games from the hit series that were much-memed around the world’s social media in 2021. It marks the first collaboration between streaming giant Netflix and a gambling operator.
Not to be outdone, International Game Technology, or IGT, revealed its new series of slots based around the music and life of the late superstar singer Whitney Houston. The series features a custom soundsystem in the new SkyRise cabinet, with a 55-inch monitor and a progressive jackpot wheel.
Meanwhile, Aristocrat took the opportunity to showcase its partnership with the NFL. The official branded football-themed slots launched SuperBowl Jackpots in June. But the upcoming full selection of titles was on display at G2E throughout the week.
Online sports betting operators have long had partnerships with sports franchises and teams, but a series of licensed casino slots with America’s premier sports league is a first for U.S. gamblers.
This included new slot games like Super Bowl Link, Winning Drive, NFL Kick Off and Ring of Victory. The operator promoted the games with a giant football helmet entrance to their display, with the machines taking pride of place in a small scale model End Zone, complete with goalposts.