G2E: online gambling and server-based slot machine games will have the biggest effect on the industry in the next 10 years.
One of America's most important, and mainly land gambling expos, G2E is running this week in Las Vegas…and industry execs interviewed at the show have expressed the view that the US is behind the times when it comes to online developments, due mainly to political interference.
"Everybody here is losing business if they don't have an online presence," Aegir Saevarsson of Betware Iceland told 8 News Now, which observed that millions of people outside if the USA can bet on a host of gambling options via the internet.
Saevarsson says gambling should go where the player goes, pointing out that online gambling is widely popular, and many punters like to gamble on mobile devices such as the iPhone.
8 News Now goes on to inform its audience that gamblers across the world are using laptops and phones to buy lottery tickets, bet sports, play poker, blackjack and slots with real money, despite the contrary approach of the United States, which has banned financial transactions with online gambling companies.
But that's changing, with initiatives at both State and Federal level to legalise the pastime.
8 News Now spoke to the American Gaming Association's Judy Patterson, who appeared positive about change, saying: "There's traditionally been a reluctance to expand gaming in the United States and this is probably just another example of it."
Bryan Kelly of slot machine manufacturer Bally Technologies said: "Everything that the [land] casino wants to market to you today that we can do here, we can now do on your mobile device."
A spokesman from the Konami provider firm wants to use the mobile apps for employees to track players and for players to track their winnings, even scanning vouchers on the floor, whilst gaming analyst Bill Lerner says land casinos need to expand online, even if Americans are blocked.
"These [established US land gambling casinos] are trusted gaming brands," he said.
That sort of respected branding and reputation means that after a punter's trip to Vegas land casinos, money can still be earned by developing an online continuation of service.
Saevarsson opined that any land casino should be interested in extending its relationship with players by having an online facility beyond the usually brief physical visit to the gambling city.
Associated Press reports from G2E that impressive new slots are on display, whetting the appetites of online gamblers who in the past have seen the most popular land gambling slots configured for internet use by the major software providers.
The news agency reports that "big, flashy" new offerings on display include themes based on the Batman installment "The Dark Knight," ”Wheel of Fortune" and "The Hangover", all of which attracted plenty of eyeballs for their video game-like aesthetics and crowd-pleasing familiarity.
"We actually think at some point sometime in the next three or four quarters, somebody's going to want to take that first move or advantage [to order the new slots], and then everything cascades from there," one land slot manufacturer said. "The challenge for us is we can't predict when that is."
The CEO of the American Gaming Association, Frank Fahrenkopf, told delegates that casino professionals who answered his group's annual, nonscientific survey indicated more pessimism about recovery than last year about business returning to pre-2008 levels within the next two years.
The industry veteran said about two-thirds of survey respondents said most growth in the [land] industry during the next 10 years will come in Asia.
They also said online gambling and server-based slot machine games will have the biggest effect on the industry in the next 10 years.
Fahrenkopf's trade association changed its negative position in March to support some online gambling, but it has not backed any of several bills that are making their way through Congress.
Fahrenkopf said he did not know if there will be any movement on online gambling bills this year, but doesn't think it will come during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.
Land gambling revenue in commercial U.S. casinos rose 1.3 percent in the third quarter to just over $8 billion, the exec revealed – around $100 million more than casinos attracted during the same period last year.
"The impact of the recession has been deeper, and the recovery slower than nearly everyone predicted," Fahrenkopf said. "Consumer discretionary spending has been significantly depressed throughout most of the year, which means that the gaming industry, and others like it, have continued to struggle."