Casino Show Invites Crowds Back in Latest Sign of Vegas Recovery
(Bloomberg) -- The casino industry’s biggest trade show is returning as an in-person event this year, part of Las Vegas’ race to get back to normal.
The Global Gaming Expo, where makers of slot machines show off their newest devices and industry insiders gather to discuss trends, will happen Oct. 4 through Oct. 7 at the Sands Expo Center. The annual event was held virtually last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak is allowing all businesses in the state to operate at their normal capacity as of Tuesday. Requirements for mask-wearing for vaccinated guests at Las Vegas resorts have also been dropped. But the return of large conventions is a key next step in the city’s turnaround.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that we’re going to be able come back in person,” said Bill Miller, chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, the trade group that co-produces the event. “It’s another sign that the gaming industry is very resilient.”
Revenue at U.S. casinos topped $11 billion in the first quarter, tying the industry’s previous 2019 record as patrons flocked back to one of the few entertainment options allowed to reopen in many markets.
The exception has been Las Vegas, where most visitors travel by plane and the city’s crucial meetings business has yet to fully return. Las Vegas visitors in April, at 2.57 million, were 27% below the same month in 2019, with convention attendees effectively at zero.
That may be about to change. The city’s newly remodeled convention center is set to host its first big show, the World of Concrete, starting June 8.
“People are really looking at that as the starting line for trade shows,” Miller said in an interview. “What that show looks like, how it takes place and what we learn from that will continue to guide us as well as any other shows.”
The gaming expo attracted 30,000 visitors in 2019.
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