The global casino industry is trying to get on with business against the backdrop of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
In Las Vegas, casino managers and their suppliers are gathering this week for the annual Global Gaming Expo, a trade show that ends Thursday and attracts some 26,000 people from around the world. On the other side of the globe, Las Vegas Sands Corp. paraded stars like David Beckham as Japan moves toward introducing casino resorts.
The talk at both events was supposed to be exclusively about growth opportunities, but that changed after a man opened fire on an outdoor concert in Las Vegas that was sponsored by MGM Resorts International. Almost 60 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured.
Still, the floor at the Sands Expo Center, about 2.5 miles north of where Sunday’s massacre took place, was busy as tribal drum beats welcomed guests and underscored the growing importance of Indian casinos that rival commercial operators in revenue. Sands President Robert Goldstein opened the presentation in Tokyo on Wednesday saying “our hearts are heavy” for the tragic event in his home city of 25 years. But he doesn’t think there’ll be any significant financial impact from Sunday’s events.
“What happened is indescribably painful and sad, and Las Vegas has a long road back to recovery from this,” Goldstein said in an interview after the event. “Of course we’ll adapt to this environment.”
Even as Casinos tried to resume normal operations, they continued to adjust their security measures in the wake of Sunday’s shooting. The Wynn resort in Las Vegas initially scanned visitors with metal-detector wands, creating a 10-minute wait to get inside. Wynn Resorts Ltd. said late Tuesday it was trimming back those inspections as it became clear only one shooter was involved, though the company said Wynn was continuing with other enhanced security procedures. Goldstein said he’s “very comfortable” with security measures at Sands properties.
At the Sands Expo Center, slot-machine makers International Game Technology Plc and Scientific Games Corp. 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 devices, aimed at millennials, that let bettors play against friends in games such as Pac-Man.
The spotlight this year was supposed to be 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 favorable Supreme Court ruling.
Another big focus is 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.
MGM Resorts, which owns the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino that the shooter used to target concert fans, said Tuesday it’s donating $3 million to help victims of the massacre.
“With this donation, we hope to make a difference to those who were harmed and those who are left behind,” Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren said in a statement.