The global casino industry is trying to get on with business against the backdrop of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Last week G2E – the world’s largest Global Gaming Expo attracting some 26,000 people – took place in Las Vegas. As usual, there was a strong contingent from Australia.
The talk at the expo was supposed to be exclusively about growth opportunities, but that changed after a man opened fire on an outdoor concert that was sponsored by MGM Resorts International. Fifty-nine people were killed and more than 500 others were injured.
Still, the floor at the Sands Expo Centre in The Venetian, about 4km north of where Sunday’s massacre took place, was busy on Monday as tribal drums welcomed guests and highlighted the growing importance of Indian casinos that now rival commercial operators when it comes to revenue.
The event kicked off on Monday with the Global Gaming Awards Lunch. Major winners included IGT who won Best Land Based Product of the Year and Best Land Based Gaming Innovation of the Year. Scientific Games were named Land Based Industry Supplier of the Year. Winners included:
- The Land Based Product of the Year: IGT- Cardless Connect
- Digital Product of the Year: Evolution Gaming- Dream Catcher
- Digital Acquisition Product of the Year: LeoVegas Affiliates
- Customer Loyalty Program of the Year: MGM Resorts international – M Life Awards
- Land-Based Industry Supplier of the Year: Scientific Games
- Digital industry Supplier of the Year: NYX Gaming Group
- Land Based Gaming Innovation of the Year: IGT – SPHINX 4D
- Digital Gaming Innovation of the Year: Betgenius – eSports Trading
- Land Based Operator of the Year: Wynn Resorts
- Digital Operator of the Year: Bet365
Both IGT and Scientific Games displayed new products including 4-D slot devices with seats that rumble and a “Lord of the Rings” game with a musical score recorded by live musicians in a studio. Next-generation manufacturers such as GameCo Inc. and Gamblit Gaming showed off their games aimed at millennials, that let bettors play against friends in games such as Pac-Man.
The spotlight this year was on sports betting, which Geoff Freeman, chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, said is closer than ever to becoming legal nationally, either through Congressional action or a favourable Supreme Court ruling.
Another big focus was e-sports, with at least eight panels about the business of professional competitors playing video games before audiences of fans. Events at casinos or betting on games themselves could draw in young fans, said Chris Grove, co-director of the Nevada Esports Alliance.
Growth in the tourism and gaming industries helps drive the economic development of Las Vegas. Last year, a record 42.9 million visitors came to the entertainment hub. How last week’s horrendous incident will affect Las Vegas in the future is yet to be known, but it seems to have bounced back relatively quickly. Time will only tell.
MGM SHELVES MARKETING IN RESPONSE TO SHOOTING
Last week The Drop reported on MGM’s lavish new marketing campaign ‘Welcome to the Show” which highlighted its shows, restaurants and fights and declared: “We are not in the hotel business, we are in the holy sh*t business.”
The casino giant has now shelved all marketing pitches as it grapples with the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history — a massacre launched from, and against, its properties.
Last Sunday, a gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, of Mesquite, broke two windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay and sprayed thousands of bullets at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival across the street from the casino.
The barrage lasted 10 minutes. With 22,000 people at the concert, 58 were killed and nearly 500 were injured.
MGM, which owns the 3,200-room Mandalay Bay and the 15-acre Las Vegas Village, the open-air venue where the concert was held, has posted sombre messages on digital hotel signage, as well as more than two dozen messages to its Twitter account since early Monday morning 2nd Oct, all related to the shooting.
Among other things, it said on Twitter that crisis counsellors were available for any guest or employee and that it had set up a hotline for victims, their family members and others.
It sent out a statement at 4 a.m. Monday, six hours after the shooting, from Chairman and CEO Jim Murren expressing condolences and saying the company was “working with law enforcement and will continue to do all we can to help all of those involved.”
MGM also announced Tuesday 3rd October that it would donate US$3 million to help victims and first-responder groups. The company ran a full-page ad in last Thursday’s Review-Journal saying, in part, “Our hearts are broken and the words are hard to find,” and expressing its “deepest gratitude and love” to police, medical personnel, its employees and others.
The company has said that it’s deferring all communication on the case to the FBI and Las Vegas police.
A handful of public relations executives have offered views about MGM’s response and what they would advise clients in a similar situation. For the most part, they agreed with its reaction of issuing statements, cooperating with law enforcement and, at least in the short run, avoiding public appearances.
Source: Reviewjournsl.com / MGM Resorts / Bloombergs