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Casino company CEOs head list of speakers at G2E

The Global Gaming Expo, one of the city’s most important conventions, is just three weeks away and the show’s organizers have rolled out an impressive list of speakers.

The expo also will be tasked with how to best address the challenges of keeping attendees safe during a pandemic.

One of the highlights of the show at The Venetian Expo and The Venetian Congress Center will be the Oct. 6 gathering of three gaming CEOs at the main event stage to discuss the future of the industry.

It’s a topic that could go in multiple directions with COVID-19 and the delta variant continuing to threaten all forms of transportation, tourism and casino entertainment, while markets across the country struggle to find their footing in a rapidly changing environment.

Panelists might also talk about the continuing rise of sports betting, touch-free cashless gaming’s emergence or whether someday players will be gambling with cryptocurrency.

The panelists will include two local gaming heavyweights, MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle and Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s Matt Maddox. Representing the tribal perspective will be Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen, whose company is operated by Florida’s Seminole Indian Tribe.

“These collective insights couldn’t be more important as we forge the path ahead after one of the most challenging years in gaming history,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, which stages G2E with Reed Exhibitions.

Miller will open the show Oct. 5 with what historically has been a “state of the industry” address. He will be followed by Gov. Steve Sisolak and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who are expected to talk about navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of Sisolak’s COVID policies plays right into how the show will look. Sisolak’s Emergency Directive 050, signed Sept. 2, allows conventions of 4,000 attendees or more to have the option of allowing them to go maskless if show producers require all pre-registered attendees to prove they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.

The AGA plans to be doubly safe: It plans to require all attendees to have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose, and it will require everyone in attendance to wear a protective face covering.

But by the time the event occurs, that could change.

“G2E intentionally aligned our health and safety protocols regarding vaccines with Nevada’s large-gathering requirements, which the governor has since extended to expos,” said Meredith Pallante, vice president of global events at AGA.

“Given that the state of the pandemic evolves daily, and sometimes even hourly, we plan to make any decision on mask requirements closer to the event,” she said.

G2E is one of four conventions that has publicly stated it will require all persons attending — conventioneers, exhibitors, media, speakers, and AGA and Reed Exhibitions staff — to comply with all health and safety rules.

This year’s trade show keynote addresses also will include a discussion of gaming and diversity.

On the afternoon of Oct. 5, a panel of three diversity experts will discuss how gaming companies can prioritize diversity at all levels to better serve customers, employees and communities and why they should.

Panelists will include MGM Resorts International Chief People, Inclusion and Sustainability Officer Jyoti Chopra; U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark; and Marriott International Senior Vice President, Multicultural Affairs, Social Impact and Business Councils, Apoorva Gandhi.

It’s unclear how many people will be attending this year’s G2E, which normally draws around 27,000 people. International attendance is likely to be down as it has been for the other major trade shows that have occurred since June because of the lack of flights from foreign countries and health and safety restrictions imposed overseas.

It’s also likely that the requirement to vaccinate and wear masks could keep some people away.

But the compelling topics and appearances as well as the always dazzling trade show floor filled with new slot machines and other casino gadgetry should make this year’s G2E as important as ever.

This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Apoorva Gandhi’s name.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and operates The Venetian/Palazzo.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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