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The Global Gaming Expo is in full swing in Las Vegas.
Gaming industry insiders from around the world are here to see the latest games and talk about the newest trends.
“During the day at that expo, you know you're bringing together approximately 26,000 people from the industry there representing all aspects of it,” longtime Nevada journalist and KNPR contributor John L. Smith said.
Smith says when we walk into a casino we’ll see a blackjack dealer, the pit boss, and the cocktail server, but what we don’t see is the technology that makes the room tick.
“It's one of the industry's success stories that I don't think really gets portrayed very often… it employs an awful lot of folks,” he said.
G2E is expanding and getting bigger every year.
Smith said the repeal of the Amateur Sports Protection Act, which allowed states to determine whether they want to allow sports betting, has “ignited a kind of gold rush across the country” of different states and local jurisdictions trying to figure out a way to cash in on it.
Sports betting is also changing because of in-game betting.
“You're going to see the ability to commonly bet on each play of a ball game in the future,” he said “You can do that to a degree now. That raises the question that if sports betting is really expanding as we all see that it is do we need that big sportsbook?”
Smith wonders if the days of the large super books with large screens and betting windows and millions of dollars in infrastructure is over now that bettors can place a bet on their phone.
Another important part of the sports betting world is how it will play out in tribal casinos. Under the compacts reached by Native American tribes, many cannot expand beyond what is allowed now. However, Smith points out that they have a sovereignty that many say allows them to expand to sports betting.
“The tribal leaders I spoke with this morning are not from that camp,” he said, “Most of them are very concerned that if they open up the compact it will end their exclusivity in many states and that what looks like a good deal today will because of changing technology and changing tastes may not be a good deal in the next few years.”
He also said the gaming industry is expanding because of the way we can gamble.
“Will it be more out of your smartphone. Will it be more of that standalone casino that we're used to,” he said, “Those are questions that the industry faces frankly smack in the MeToo movement. And so, there are a lot of things going on in the gaming industry today that touch a lot of levels of society.”
Smith said this is the first time he has seen so many women on so many panel discussions at G2E.
“There's clearly an attempt to show an industry that's evolving,” he said, “There's a gaming group little known until this year: Global Gaming Women. The keynote on the first day was delivered by a woman.”
Smith is not sure that the addition of more women is a real effort to change the industry or a “good game face.” He said the industry is still lacking in the number of women in high offices.
For Smith, there is no doubt about where the push to include more women is coming from.
“I think the scandal involving Steve Wynn rocked the entire industry,” he said, “I think it sent a shockwave through it. That has changed it and changed it for better and hopefully forever.”
He says we are seeing a change in the industry with how women are treated and promoted.
“How it affects folks on the casino floor will always be the question,” he said, “The working people the cocktail servers the waiters and waitresses that sexual harassment in real time for the so-called little people that will really be what shows whether the industry is evolving in a good way.”
John L. Smith, contributor