Manufacturers Return for G2E Las Vegas as iGaming Emerges
LAS VEGAS – The Global Gaming Expo, the annual convention of the gambling industry in Las Vegas, was a little less global this year because the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still restricting international travel. However, the trade show floor was proof that domestically, just about everyone who needed to be at G2E in the comeback year of 2021 was there. Last year, in the throes of the pandemic, G2E was a virtual experience.
Just a partial roll call of major slot machine manufacturers and gambling equipment makers at the trade show at the Venetian Expo this year included Scientific Games, IGT, Aristocrat and Konami. Vendors displayed old-school casino products, such as table game chairs, playing cards and gambling chips. Tech companies flashed their new-age services, such as contactless payments and B2B sports gambling platforms.
IGaming Moves To Forefront
At the 21st G2E, one product that wasn’t much of a consideration just a few years ago, but is taking on greater prominence, is iGaming: Online slots and table games played on computers and mobile devices in jurisdictions where such gambling is legal. Right now, a handful of states offer iGaming; among the biggest are New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Connecticut is on the way.
Scientific Games, with familiar slot franchises such as old-time favorite Blazing 7s and hugely popular Monopoly, is pulling together legacy elements of gaming and finding a new home for them in the digital world.
“We want to make sure that the player will find slots games that they’re familiar with from their casino experience,” said Brett Jackson, creative director, digital for Scientific Games. “It’s important that they find brands that they’re comfortable with and have already been enjoying.”
Jackson noted that, while iGaming has been big in the UK for years, some of the most popular offerings there, such as fruit games, wouldn’t necessarily resonate with an American audience. Scientific Games is putting together a creative studio in Las Vegas to develop online games that will appeal to U.S players and formatting those games to the smaller single screen of a smart phone.
Jackson said it’s anticipated that online real-money gamblers will still be casual players likely playing for small stakes, say as little as 20 cents a play. However, there are potential advancements in the games that could excite players, such as progressives, a familiar casino concept which yields mega-payouts, and multi-line games with an impressive array of pay lines.
Companies Unveil Immersive Gaming Experiences
For the casino floor, IGT displayed its multi-functional CrystalFlex machine, which won the "Best Consumer-Service Technology" category of the 2021 GGB Gaming & Technology Awards.
Put simply, the CrystalFlex is a single-station casino. The sit-down carrel has screen-within-a-screen display for watching live sports with touch-screen options for making pre-game, in-game and futures sports bets. And then there is also a suite of casino games available, including slots, video poker and blackjack. There’s even a headphone jack and mobile device charging port.
The CrystalFlex, which is being advertised as a “VIP betting and gaming” experience, lets players switch between sports betting and casino gambling using the same funds. The machine isn’t on casino floors just yet.
Meanwhile, Aristocrat was unveiling an immersive slots experience available at the Palazzo Casino in Vegas, in the same building where G2E was being held.
The machine envelops the player with a sweeping curved display screen in front and extends overhead to a canopy that just about puts the customer in the slot machine’s world.
The themes on display were Dune (the science fiction movie), Wild Wild Buffalo, and Big Fish. The Dune machine features video action from the movie on the game’s reels and spacecraft flying overhead. Wild Wild Buffalo features western landscapes above with soaring eagles. And Big Fish turns the canopy into a mesmerizing aquarium.