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They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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Allow me to clarify.
The annual Global Gaming Expo is a great and good thing, bringing together industry members, vendors and academics from the four corners of the globe. You see the newest -- and oftimes the strangest -- products on offer. Many are all the more tantalizing for not having received regulatory approval -- placing them tantalizingly out of reach. I'll confess to a childlike fondness for the huge table game with the dome under which plastic horsies go 'round and 'round in a sort of mock Kentucky Derby. Silly, yes, and an absolutely pointless wager, but G2E doesn't stint on oddball entertainment value.
The sheer amount of brainpower that is directed into that outwardly frivolous activity known as "gambling" is an awesome sight to behold, especially when crammed into the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The conference tracks are an embarrassment of riches (especially when a speaker makes a particularly egregious faux pas). It's Sophie's Choice to the fourth power to have to select between panels sometimes. Heck, most times. And if there are any detractors of Native American casinos out there, if you subtracted the tribal attendance from G2E and many other industry conferences, they'd either be A) much smaller, B) ghost towns or C) defunct.
Then there's the yearly "State of the Industry" panel, which more recently has been "The Gary & Terry Show," with American Gaming Association President Frank J. Fahrenkopf serving questions to Harrah's Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman and MGM Mirage CEO J. Terrence Lanni. Except that Lanni canceled his 2008 appearance a short while back -- a harbinger of his resignation? IGT CEO T.J. Matthews will also be there, which should be, uh, interesting, especially with Loveman having launched a pogrom against "Wheel of Fortune" and other participation games.
However, there will be "added value" in the form of Ernest Stevens Jr., the Fahrenkopf of tribal gaming, taking his rightful place amidst the panel -- another sign that we've moved past the days when companies like Circus Circus Enterprises actively tried to suppress tribal gaming in neighboring states. (Speaking of Fahrenkopf, he had a cameo in this week's Frontline biography of GOP dirty trickster Lee Atwater, the man who brought you Willie Horton. It included a scene of Atwater spewing bile while Fahrenkopf stood at his left elbow. Whaddya wanna bet FJF wishes he could "disappear" that footage.)
Loveman gets all huffy if you challenge him about stuff (like why he lives in Massachusetts), so that can add to the fun. He's also very difficult to understand sometimes, because he's got the strange habit of swiveling his head constantly from left to right while answering questions, meaning that the microphone ... catches ... roughly ... every ... other ... word.
And yet ...
G2E is an ordeal. It's the Bataan Death March of the casino industry, as we haul ourselves from one end of the exhibit floor (which seems to extend beyond the curvature of the Earth) and back again, then repeat the exercise. Noise, crowds and the relentless pounding of one's feet on thinly-covered cement; it all takes a toll, especially for someone like myself who suffers from the triple whammy of fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and recurring back trouble. The reams of paperwork one has to plough through beforehand can also drive you to despair.
In short, G2E is not for the faint of heart nor the frail of constitution. With that in mind, I offer 10 survival tips.
• The F&B Pavilion is your friend. Make liberal use of it, especially any free booze you can snag.
• The most important booth is not IGT's but rather the one where they sell the massaging insoles. I bought a pair last year and they were life savers.
• Chair massages. 'Nuff said.
• Sit down. As often as possible. You may not want to get up again, but duty calls.
• Cell phones. Set them on LOUD (as in jet-engine loud). In G2E, no one can hear your phone ring.
• Tchotchkes. The fewer you pick up, the better. The same goes for goodie bags. They'll just weigh you down and make your job harder. Travel light. Except for ...
• Business cards. Pack as many as you think you'll need. Then double it. At minimum.
• Downloadable slots. First, see if you can spot them (last year's bunch were indescribably bland). Then have a drink for every time somebody tells you they're "one year away" from deployment. Sort of like handheld gambling devices. (Remember them? They were The Next Big Thing ... three years ago.) For extra fun, use the term "vaporware" around the Cantor Gaming booth and see what kind of looks you draw.
• Don't play the slots unless you can get a sales rep to set them so they immediately trigger a bonus round. Otherwise you can waste a lot of time. Why they're not set to the bonus round as a matter of course remains a mystery.
• Fowl play. Remember the tic-tac-toe-playing chicken from Atlantic City? See if he has a booth this year. Then try to beat him. If you can, you're a true Master of the Universe 'cause that chicken's got game.
Get buzzed at the Trop. LVA just conducted a poll on casino smells, particularly the sort of piped-in aromas you'll encounter at The Palazzo. Which prompted a reader to ask, "So…… That moldy marijuana smell at the Tropicana is pumped in????? Interesting……"
Well, it'd be one way to get people to want to eat at that buffet.