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Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, major annual events involving large crowds have had to choose between skipping a year or moving online. The Global Gaming Exposition (G2E) has chosen the latter.
Its flagship American expo is canceled this year, but in its place will be a Virtual Experience, set to begin on Oct. 14. Most of the expo’s major events will take place two weeks later, on Oct. 27-28.
G2E has been held annually since 2001. It was the creation of the American Gaming Association (AGA), which enlisted Reed Exhibitions to organize the events. It was a big affair from the start, with 375 exhibitors and nearly 10,000 attendees. In the two decades since then, it has nearly tripled in size, spun off a second annual expo, G2E Asia and established a partnership with its UK equivalent, ICE London.
The original, in-person event was scheduled earlier in the month, from Oct. 5 to 8. It would have taken place at the Las Vegas Sands Expo & Convention Center. Although Las Vegas casinos have reopened, there’s currently no way to hold an event the size of G2E in person that is both safe and practical.
Attendance would have been far down in any event due to people’s unwillingness or inability to travel in order to attend. There are tentative plans for G2E to reconvene next year at the same location and over essentially the same dates, Oct. 4 to 7.
A pass to G2E’s full Virtual Experience will run you $125. This includes a $25 donation to the International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG). However, a lot of content will be available for free for those looking merely to get their feet wet.
On Oct. 14, the event will begin with a Kickoff Session, which includes a free one-hour panel discussion starting at 11 AM ET. Perhaps inevitably, the subject of the panel will be the pandemic itself. Titled “Leading Through COVID-19: Real Conversations on Resilience,” it will address specifically the challenges involved in the process of reopening land-based casinos.
Here’s what the lineup for that panel looks like:
Following that will be a half-hour G2E Product Spotlight, also free to all badge holders. There will be three similar 15-minute sessions during the two days of the expo itself, also free to attend.
In between the Kickoff and the expo will be two weeks for planning and exploration. This also does not require a paid entry, though it will be of limited use to those not planning to attend the expo. During this time, attendees can book meetings with one another, seek out vendors whose products interest them, see what panels and keynotes are on offer, and make a plan for how they’ll spend the two days of the expo.
Although an online experience can’t match the social aspects of an in-person convention, it does have its advantages. Those who pay for a badge to attend won’t only have access to the content of the expo while it’s actually running. G2E will keep an archived copy of all sessions year-round, so attendees who miss an interesting panel can catch up on it at their leisure.
That’s good news, because both days of the expo feature two time slots for panels, with four simultaneous events running in each. Attendees can therefore only watch and participate in four discussions in real-time, while missing 12. Archived video makes this much less of a dilemma.
Even in a normal year, sessions are taped so attendees can view them later, and G2E posts select segments to its YouTube channel. However, those discussions are aimed at a live audience, so not everything comes through on video. The nice thing about this year’s Virtual Experience is that those watching after the fact will see and hear exactly the same content as those listening in real time, albeit without being able to participate in Q&A sessions.
The two days of the expo include daily keynotes, vendor interaction and networking opportunities. For most attendees, however, the focus will be the four panel sessions. Here’s a list of the topics that will be on offer in each.
Oct. 27, 12:30-1:15 p.m. ET
Oct. 27, 3:30-4:15 p.m. ET
Oct. 28, 1:00-1:45 p.m. ET
Oct. 28, 2:30-3:15 p.m. ET