Four Things I’m Hoping To See, Hear, Discover, And Be Surprised By At G2E 2016

September 20, 2016
Four Things I’m Hoping To See, Hear, Discover, And Be Surprised By At G2E 2016

Global Gaming Expo 2016 is less than a week away, and while I’ve already mapped out my session schedule, there is more to G2E than discussion panels and seminars.

My G2E week will be filled with attending panels and seminars, but also one-on-one meetings and talks, and exploring the showroom floor.

Here’s what I’m hoping to see, hear, discover and be surprised by, during my three days at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

See: New software products

The G2E showroom is massive and largely populated by the latest and greatest developments in land-based games. But dotted throughout the sprawling 260,000-square-foot display area are some online gambling products.

This year, there is at least one product I’m very interested in getting a look at: IGT’s recently overhauled poker platform.

IGT picked up the BOSS Media online poker platform back in 2008, but with little investment, the product quickly became dated and an afterthought in the industry.

But IGT has spent the last three years updating and overhauling its online poker platform (with a focus on mobile) recently unveiling it in the Italian online poker market.

There will be the aforementioned IGT, and as always I’ll stop by the Gaming Arts booth to check out the latest version of HDPoker (a product I’m very bullish on), and will hopefully be pleasantly surprised by other exhibitors.

Beyond the showroom floor, GVC has recently overhauled PartyPoker’s mobile platform, and then there is the still yet to be seen platform developed by Pala Interactive. They aren’t on the exhibitors list at G2E, but I’m still holding out hope I can get a glimpse at these products, and learn what other companies have in store for their online poker products moving forward.

Hear: A counter to the millennial problem

The idea that gaming has a millennial problem has gone completely unchallenged over the past two years. My hope is this notion will finally be challenged this year.

In 2014, millennial presentations and references were met with “wows,” and a lot of “that’s a disturbing trend,” type comments.

In 2015, people were better prepared to hear about how discerning this new generation was, and how little they gambled. But the rhetoric was essentially the same, and the millennial problem was treated as gospel.

In 2016 the wows have been replaced with eye rolls. People just aren’t buying it anymore.

There is certainly something to be said to adapting to each generation. However, the idea that Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers are going to figure out what Millennials want in gaming products is a bit pompous, if such a solution even exists. The answer to solving the “millennial problem” is going to come from millennials, and it’s more likely to happen organically.

This year at G2E I want to hear people challenge the cherry-picked data and put forth counterarguments. I want to hear arguments like Penn National’s Jay Snowden elucidated at the National Council of Legislators from Gambling States Summer Conference in Boston when he compared and contrasted millennials with an equally large generation, Baby Boomers.

According to Snowden’s presentation:

  • Millennials carry more student debt (42 percent for Millennials compared to 13 percent for Boomers).
  • Millennials’ average annual income is roughly half of Baby Boomers ($60,000 compared to $33,000).

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which of these groups is more likely to have the means to gamble. And if we extrapolate on this data a bit, it’s not surprising to find that millennials are so discerning; they have to be.

As Snowden said at NCLGS, “wait another 10 years,” and then we’ll see if we actually have a millennial problem, or if like previous generations, millennials age into gambling as they become more financially secure.

Discover: eSports

There’s always a next big thing on the gaming horizon.

In 2014 it was social gaming. Last year it was daily fantasy sports that invaded just about every panel discussion.

This year I expect esports to be the cranberry of G2E, although skill-based games could slip into a lot of discussions too.

Looking ahead to 2017, it will be virtual reality gaming; you can mark that down now.

Esports is an interesting product, and one that a number of casino corporations are focusing on. Esports is supposed to help on the millennial front and open up a new exciting vertical for casino corporations. Several panels will talk about esports, and I suspect there will be some demos and booths too.

Hopefully, unlike DFS last year, eSports won’t be the only thing people want to talk about.

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Be surprised by: The return of online poker

Poker, and particularly online poker, has been something of an afterthought at conferences I’ve attended over the past few years.

But a lot is happening on the online poker front, and I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of online poker chatter at G2E, and see a renewed interest in online poker. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only vertical that has ever proven to be a hit with the elusive millennial.

There are online-poker-only efforts underway in New York and California. PokerStars is back in the US market. There are new products blurring the lines of poker and casino games (lottery style Sit & Go’s). With that backdrop, it will be interesting to see:

  • How much time different panels dedicate to poker;
  • How often poker is brought up unprompted; and
  • How poker is referred to: Is it a declining product that companies view as a the third or fourth priority, or is it about enter a new period of innovation?

And as noted above, I’m also interested in seeing what kind of presence poker has on the showroom floor.

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