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Rod Smith

Global Gaming Expo Grows Up

15 September 2003

LAS VEGAS -- The Global Gaming Expo, which opens today at the Las Vegas Convention Center and runs through Thursday, has rapidly grown into the greatest show in gaming.

"G2E is one of the most anticipated events in the industry for new products. It's the first look into what casino and slot managers will have to look for over the next 12 to 18 months," Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone said last week.

Once a simple event, it has grown into a media extravaganza featuring stars from the stage, movies, television and even cartoon strips, both in person and on many of the new slot machines that will debut during the show.

G2E emerged from the 2001 merger of two gaming trade shows, the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) and World Gaming Congress & Expo.

"Las Vegas continues to benefit from a consolidation of trade shows where both patrons and exhibitors think they have an advantage. Exhibitors think they make more (money) and patrons think they'll have more fun," Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Zarnett said.

G2E will cover 216,400 square feet this year, compared with 188,860 last year and 133,000 in 2001. Audited attendance last year was 13,652, and preregistration this year is running parallel with 2002.

Ed Rogich, spokesman for Reno-based International Game Technology, the world's largest slot machine manufacturer, said, "(G2E) has come to be recognized as the premier event of the year for the slot machine industry and our slot machine customers."

IGT alone will showcase 150 new gaming machine themes at G2E.

Among all the Hollywood stars, the standout celebrity at the IGT exhibit area may be Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert cartoon strip. He will be there to help promote IGT's new Dilbert slot machine.

IGT will roll out its new WheelBert slot machine, based on the comic strip, to casinos nationwide beginning mid-January.

"I hope that some lucky office worker wins the big jackpot," Adams said. "Better yet, maybe I'll win it myself and that will be even more meaningful, but in a different way."

Other characters appearing on new IGT slots will include the Terminator, Austin Powers, Rodney Dangerfield, Young Frankenstein, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor and Drew Carey.

At Deutsche Bank, Falcone said casino slot managers, who have been looking for new and viable slot suppliers besides IGT, will welcome the competitive products and services several other companies plan to unveil at G2E.

IGT in 2002 accounted for more than 70 percent of the domestic slot machine market, while Aristocrat and Alliance had market shares of less than 15 percent each.

However, Falcone predicted the new competition would lead more to the three second-tier companies competing with each other rather than taking market share away from IGT.

"Everyone claims they can take market share (from IGT). But in few cases have you seen a manufacturer take market share," Falcone said.

Aristocrat Technologies, the U.S. subsidiary of Australia-based Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., plans to display 140 games, including a Jeff Foxworthy game.

Another key product that Aristocrat will launch is new handheld wireless technology that enables casino staff to improve efficiency and customer service by processing jackpots and fill tickets on the casino floor, he said.

Waukegan, Ill.-based WMS Industries, once a top slot manufacturer whose product sales had dwindled toward zero over the past couple of years, also has big plans for this week's gaming expo.

WMS Gaming, the company's slot-making subsidiary with its marketing division and a warehouse operation in Las Vegas, plans to unveil 40 new games, its new platform and operating systems, and the infrastructure to support operations at G2E.

Las Vegas-based Alliance Gaming, holding company for Bally Gaming and Systems, will officially unveil its "Saturday Night Live" series of slots, including seven different titles at G2E.

It also plans to show off 110 unique titles at G2E with 135 total machines on display.

The displays will include a new wide-area progressive link with a $250,000 reset that will include a new bonus game called Lucky Wheel, new Cash For Life progressive games, new Playboy games, licensed titles such as S&H Green Stamps, Li'l Abner, Felix the Cat and Iron Chef.

Global Gaming Expo Grows Up is republished from