G2E 2022 Was a Realignment, Not a Reunion

October 31, 2022 7:53 PM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • Caroline Ponseti — Communications Strategist , Invariant
October 31, 2022 7:53 PM
  • Caroline Ponseti — Communications Strategist , Invariant

“Buzz” is a clichéd word when trying to describe an event. But when I think back to the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2022, the first thing that comes to my mind is just that—buzz.

My G2E experience has evolved dramatically since I first arrived at the Sands in 2018 and couldn’t walk two steps without hearing someone discussing sports betting. Since then, G2E has navigated an explosion of sports betting exhibitors (2019), an entirely virtual G2E (2020), a show that resembled a mass-scale reunion (2021), and finally, what we experienced last week: buzz.

Listening to the tone of panel discussions and conversations on and off the expo floor, I realized that this G2E was not just a reunion. G2E 2022 became a place for the industry to regroup and realign on what comes next. Three key takeaways come to mind as I think back on the show.

First, the gambling industry has an opportunity to cement itself as a mainstream form of entertainment but hinders itself by using industry jargon to communicate with mainstream stakeholders. Terms like “handle” or “gross gaming revenue” might make sense to industry stakeholders, but are they clear to mainstream audiences? Light & Wonder’s Howard Glaser hit this point during Monday’s iGaming panel when he said, “When we talk to legislators about iGaming, they don’t know what we are talking about.” Arguments for legalizing iGaming won’t resonate with lawmakers if they don’t understand the terminology the industry takes for granted.

I heard this frustration across many conversations during the show. Momentum is building for pivoting away from such jargon, but there won’t be progress until individuals make the conscious effort to use common terms. It’s also worth noting that some mainstream companies dipping their toes into the gambling or sports betting markets are wary of outdated stereotypes around “casinos” or “gambling” and therefore gravitate toward ambiguous terms to describe their work in the industry.

Next, when the industry talks about its commitment to responsible gaming, it’s often just that: words. It’s not hard to include a “responsible gaming” page on a website, but problem gambling advocates will tell you that meaningful change requires action. I was encouraged by the number of companies I talked to that were committed to getting their responsible gaming solutions in front of players—actualizing the narrative that technology can give patrons more tools to gamble responsibly.

Finally, there was no shortage of discussion around the obstacles holding back iGaming legalization. Chief among them is a lack of industry alignment. iGaming does not have the same unified industry approach that benefited sports betting legalization, and a disjointed state-by-state lobbying approach limits widespread iGaming legalization. The industry craves alignment on iGaming.

The energy is always tangible when you walk through the expo floor. Bright lights. Decked-out booths. The sound and feel of the newest slot machines. But there’s nothing quite like the conversations. G2E is where the industry creates a roadmap for the year ahead. Now it’s time to see which paths everyone takes.

Caroline Ponseti is a communications strategist at Invariant. She previously led media relations for the American Gaming Association and served as a press secretary on Capitol Hill.