Last week I had two different people ask me if I missed the casino world. After some inner reflection, I realized I do a little bit – it’s an exciting industry filled with a lot of great people. I still enjoy visiting places like Mystic Lake and figuring out which machines are new, how they change floor layouts, what types of promotions they run to attract more business and other aspects of the operation (which I still feel is one of the best around).
This also made me realize that I never wrote up a trip summary from last fall’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, held way back on September 28 â€“ October 1 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. I hadn’t planned to attend this event originally, so my hotel choices were a bit limited and I ended up at the newly branded LINQ (formerly the Imperial Palace). While the location is great, I don’t think I’ll be going back there again. Nothing majorly horrible – I just prefer other resorts.
G2E is a huge show and I was lucky enough to attend five times during my casino career. The same companies and people are usually present every year and you have the added benefit of the Vegas Strip as a backdrop. This usually leads to a number of great (free) parties and the 2015 edition was no different. This time I held back a little on the drinking side of things, but was excited to finally see the inside of Tao, Lavo and Omnia. It was also great fun to spend time with Vanessa, Jason, Ryan, Peter, Shannon, Mike, Jenn and EJ. Hope to see all of them again at some point.
On the business side of things, I love evaluating new slot machines. As you can see in the photo gallery after the jump, licensed theme games continue to be extremely popular. My favorite new titles were The Simpsons, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Cirque du Soleil Kooza (a natural for Vegas slot floors if there ever was one). Games I felt were duds include Caddyshack (dislike 3×3 reel games), Frogger (complete waste of a license, poor gameplay, major let down from normally strong Konami) and Space Invaders (skill-based arcade games will only work when you have controls as good as the originals, IMO).
A few other items I remember from the show floor include seeing Pitbull promote his new Playboy slot machine (along with multiple Bunnies), a James Bond-themed welcome party and the Ultimate Chef Showdown judged by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and Gavin Kaysen’s mentor, Daniel Boulud. I also had an interesting discussion at the MICROS booth (now owned by Oracle). Turns out I’m not the only one who feels the merger has basically destroyed what was once a solid, reliable business partner.
Speaking of food, I had quite a long list of Vegas restaurants I wanted to visit. I was hoping to hit db Brasserie at the Venetian right away, but they were “out of food” by the end of lunch that day. Spots that were open: Hash House A Go Go at the LINQ, Giada at the Cromwell, Bouchon at the Venetian and Yusho at the Monte Carlo. All were wonderful.
Ended up taking a red-eye home, so I had a lot of time to walk around various properties on the last day of the trip. I hiked over to New York, New York to get a glimpse of the new arena being built by MGM and AEG (now called T-Mobile Arena). The new hole in CityCenter where The Harmon used to stand was a bit dramatic. I also stopped in at the Bellagio Gallery of Art and took in the Picasso â€“ Creatures and Creativity exhibition (for free, thanks to MyVegas).
Perhaps this post was best left unwritten, as now I just want to go back again…