FANTINI’S FINANCE: G2E Wrap; Gaming is Back

If the events at G2E two weeks ago are any proof, gaming is healthy and coming back. From a jammed exhibit floor to new companies and renewed enthusiasm says the industry is vital and changing.

Now that everyone has shared their thoughts on G2E, here’s our wrap up.

Gaming is back. If the size and enthusiasm of the crowds at G2E say anything about the health of the gaming industry – and I believe they do—then the industry is finally back to a full healthy state.

Booths were swamped. Exhibitors were happy. Attendees were upbeat. And we even saw business being written right there on the trade show floor.

The ever-changing of the guard. While one topic of conversation is what happens to future G2Es as so many major exhibitors disappear thanks to industry consolidation, the answer is clear: new companies will take their place.

Last year, we observed the arrival of social gaming and other internet technology companies as mainstream exhibitors, not just small booths deep in the rarely traveled interior of the trade show.

This year, companies that not long ago had 10-by-10 and 10-by-20-square-foot booths had blossomed into significant exhibitors, and it isn’t a stretch to imagine some of them becoming major exhibitors in the not-to-distant future.

Among those that stepped it up were Kent Young’s Spin Games, London-listed GameAccount, and Hong Kong-listed Paradise Entertainment’s LT Game.

Don’t wave good-bye just yet. Those major exhibitors might not be disappearing next year, after all.

IGT reportedly is planning to occupy even more space next year after it joins GTECH.

There is speculation that Scientific Games will occupy a full wall of the exhibition hall so attendees can parade past Bally, WMS, SHFL and Sci Games.

And certainly Global Cash Access isn’t going to let Multimedia Games hide all of its products inside an ATM.

In a way, the return of the big exhibitors wouldn’t be a surprise. Sci Games, for example, has indicated it will keep its various brands, and the big product lines will still require considerable space.

But G2E is a huge part of every supplier’s marketing budget, and they all have synergy—read cost cutting—goals to make, so there’s going to have to be some cut backs.

Who’s the best? Every year, our answer is the same: We don’t even try to figure out who had the best new products because the whole week is sensory overload and every product is in demo mode.

We’d rather wait to see how games are played in actual casinos.

Having said that, there’s no question that Aristocrat generated the big buzz about its new games.

As our Eilers-Fantini Quarterly Slot Survey has shown, Aristocrat is making headway in North America.

It’s pretty obvious that the company’s investment in all-star game designers, Joe Kaminkow chief among them, is paying off.

And the most enthusiastic? It’s got to be Gavin Isaacs, followed closely by Kaminkow.

We were impressed by Isaacs’ enthusiasm during our Fantini Research CEO One-On-One interview. But more impressive was his enthusiasm off camera—asking questions, rapidly devouring new information.

Isaacs has a huge challenge ahead in bringing the new Scientific Games into a coherent whole, but he’s obviously inspired by the challenge and the possibilities. And, as everyone is quick to say, if there’s one person who can do it, it’s Gavin Isaacs.

Isaacs was among a number of CEOs we interviewed both of established companies and of emerging companies. Those videos, mostly all under 10 minutes, can be viewed at

Articles by Author: Frank Fantini

Frank Fantini is principal at Fantini Advisors, investors and consultants with a focus on gaming.