Following the return of full access to G2E in 2022, 2023’s show is even more wide open, and poised to be more successful. Korbi Carrison is entering her sixth G2E as the vice president of the event for show producer RX (formerly Reed Exhibitions) and Maureen
Beddis is overseeing her first G2E as the senior vice president of membership and events for the American Gaming Association (AGA). They spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros via Zoom in August. To see and hear a full version of this interview, visit GGBMagazine.com to access the GGB Podcasts.
GGB: Maureen, this will be your first full involvement in G2E as the event’s SVP for the AGA. How did you prepare for this, and what are you expecting to see at this year’s show?
Beddis: My preparation actually started last year. So even before I had a chance to join the AGA team, they extended an invitation to me to attend G2E in 2022 as a guest. So I got the opportunity to walk the show floor, meet the exhibitors, certainly spend some time with a lot of the AGA members and reunite with my business partners at RX. I was thrilled to have been able to come to this show last year. So lots of things to expect and see for this year are built upon the successful show in 2022. We’re looking to continue to improve and enhance every aspect of the show. We’ll have expanded opportunities for networking this year. The networking lounge was a really big success last year, so you’ll see a larger dedicated space for networking this year, along with some opportunities for different groups to gather in that space.
There will be more expanded rich content this year in terms of the conference and education program. This is the first time we did a call for content out to the industry to hear what this industry thinks we should be talking about at G2E. And we had over 400 submissions for sessions. So we are really excited about the content and education this year. And then of course, new destinations across the show floor. We’ll have an iGaming zone this year, and will be able to introduce new innovative products coming from the exhibitors, who really are the stars of the show here.
GGB: Korbi, it’s your sixth G2E—you went through the pandemic, which caused the show to be canceled in 2020 and reduced dramatically in 2021. You rebounded greatly last year, so what kind of response are you getting from sponsors, exhibitors and attendees since last year’s show was so successful?
Carrison: Thank you for mentioning that; we did have a great show last year. By all accounts and everybody that we heard from, attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, industry partners, we were really thrilled just to be able to convene the industry again in a meaningful way, year over year. And we’ve had an incredible response so far for G2E ’23, building upon that success from last year. I think what we’re really seeing is that G2E is reflecting what we’re seeing in the industry, which is amazing growth. Lots of growth, records broken all over the place, and we’re using G2E to reflect that. So looking at where we are seeing the growth, we’re seeing incredible engagement on iGaming and sports betting.
GGB: Maureen, tell us about the interactive tools that G2E is offering to help both exhibitors and attendees to get the most out of the show.
Beddis: The good news is there’s always a tool for everyone. Some people like the physical show guide and some people like the app. And we try to have it all so that everyone has the most appropriate guide for how they like to experience the show. One of the things that is new this year is a new kind of build-your-own-experience guide. With so much great content at the show and so many exhibitors, one of the things that we heard last year was that people were kind of bummed that they didn’t know something was happening, so they may have missed it. Or just being overwhelmed by there being so much content from so many exhibitors. So this is a way we’re trying to streamline that for people and help them create their own, more curated experience.
Carrison: We have a new section on our website at globalgamingexpo.com where users can go to ‘Experience’ and click on ‘Guides,’ where they fill out a little quiz about their interests. And it will create a new kind of personalized plan for them to help them determine which sections across the show floor are right for them, which education sessions are important for them, just based on their interests. So we’re hoping to make it a little less overwhelming and a little more personal and streamlined.
GGB: Tell us about the expanded networking area. I know that was very active last year.
Carrison: That was something new that we did last year, and it was incredibly successful. So we made a plan to enlarge that space. It will be in a different location. All of our maps and directionals will guide you there. There will be a lot of fun engagement, certainly around the Emerging Leaders of Gaming/40 under 40, the AGEM Memorial Awards. We also have a commitment with African Americans in Gaming to host a happy hour there, and we’re looking at some other engagements as well.
There are other areas of the show floor, for example, the Innovation Lab, which is a newly reimagined version of that space that you’ll remember from years before. The lab is a place where people can connect more around topics. So we will have short education sessions in that space. They’ll be about 20 minutes each. Think of it like a TED Talk. But those are engagements that are more from companies that are creating a new technology to address what’s up and coming in the industry. And those are folks that may have technology that is so new, they’re not ready to do a full-out engagement on the expo hall floor. So this gives them a little bit of daylight to really spread the word about what they’ve got going on.
GGB: The Welcome Reception is always well attended. When will that be held in 2023?
Carrison: Yes, the Welcome Reception is the largest networking opportunity that we have that will be taking place on Monday afternoon at 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. That will be taking place immediately after our Monday afternoon keynote, which the Indian Gaming Association is helping us curate.
GGB: So you mentioned the Monday keynote. Do you have other information on keynotes at G2E at this point?
Beddis: It’s a little too early to reveal who the speakers will be for the keynotes at the show. But as Korbi mentioned, our Monday content is centered around tribal gaming, which informs the keynote that day. In terms of Tuesday and Wednesday, I think the keynotes are reflective of the industry today and the growth of the show. So I think you can expect to see and hear from some of the leaders in the commercial operator space and iGaming as well as sports and sports betting. So too soon to reveal any names yet, but I can assure you that it will be relevant and some of the most important names in the industry today.
GGB: Tell us about the conference program. What are you doing differently this year that you think will appeal to the attendees?
Carrison: As Maureen referred to earlier, the call for speakers and content was a big departure from what we had done before, and it really informed us on several points. No. 1, we have a lot of very smart people in this industry who are very generous with their contributions of their time and their talents. Unfortunately, we couldn’t accept all 400 submissions, so we’ve done our best to make the program representative of those different submissions and also take into consideration what attendees are coming to us and saying that they want to hear. So we’re seeing a lot of rich content, and we will be having education over four days. We’ll have six different rooms running all day on a lot of different topic areas, but especially we’re seeing a lot of content around the future of gaming. So it’s not only what are we doing now, how can we improve today—there is a bit of that—but also, where are we going in the future? And that topic extends across commercial and tribal casinos. And it also touches upon non-U.S. interests too, as well as topics around fintech, a lot of talk around iGaming, and sports betting as it continues to grow in the U.S.
On Thursday at G2E, we’re designing a fully immersive and very engaging program. These topics were also suggested by the submission, and we’re introducing some workshops that we’re planning for this year. They will be a ticketed event, and they will be topical with four different subject matters that we are inviting some experts to come in and present about. They’re deeper in detail than a typical conference session. And we’re hopeful that people will engage deeply, connect with other people that have similar interests and walk away from those sessions with actionable plans.
GGB: With such a wide interest in this year’s G2E, and the remarkable revenue numbers put up by the industry recently, what does it say about the growth and the health of the casino industry and its largest trade show and conference?
Beddis: One of the things that we do at the AGA is keep track of the growth and what’s happening in the industry. Last week, the AGA released its most recent numbers, and we’ve had the industry’s 10th consecutive quarter of growth, which is just incredible. I’d like to think we are probably the envy of many industries for sure. So I think as the industry continues to grow, the show is extremely reflective of that growth, and I’m excited to see what we have in store here for this year.