Years ago, when I served as the chairman of the Republican National Committee, one of our biggest challenges was reaching out to a more diverse electorate for support. The Republican Party recognized that in order to grow and become more successful, we needed to reach beyond the groups that traditionally had formed our political base.
A similar formula for success applies in business. When we established the American Gaming Association (AGA) in 1995, we brought together casino operators, slot manufacturers, and gaming vendors and suppliers - many of which were fierce competitors - to provide a united front on federal legislative and regulatory issues affecting their business. The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), which as you know represents most of our nation’s Indian casinos, provides a similar service for its members.
The concept here is basic: When you group together those with common interests, you can have a greater impact than if you go it alone.
As we began making plans for our trade show and conference, Global Gaming Expo (G2E), this concept was not far from our minds. While the AGA itself represents only the interests of the commercial casino industry in the United States, our work in many areas is intertwined with every other segment of the gaming industry. Disordered gambling, regulation and credit policies, for example, are challenges faced by both commercial casinos and Indian casinos, as are marketing, entertainment, slots, food and beverage, and other operational issues.
Additionally, as the industry has matured, we have seen a growing convergence of our businesses. Casino companies are buying or managing slots operations at racetracks -some of which are owned by lotteries. Commercial casino operators are managing Indian casinos. U.S. casino operators are exploring new opportunities around the world. Pari-mutuel companies are tapping interactive gaming to grow their businesses. The list goes on and on.
As a result, we saw a real need to produce a show that reflected the shared goals of the entire gaming industry worldwide - a forum that would allow the exchange of information and ideas, networking and, of course, showcasing of the latest products and services. We didn’t envision G2E as a replacement for the individual shows produced for the lottery, Indian casinos and other segments of the gaming industry, but rather as a complement to those shows.
It was against this backdrop that G2E was created and ultimately launched last year. And this month, the entire gaming industry will converge on Las Vegas for our second annual event. Given our mission, nothing could be more important than the active involvement and participation of each and every segment of the gaming industry, particularly Indian gaming, one of the fastest-growing.
More than 100 conference sessions on topics ranging from security to marketing will be offered Sept. 17-19, with an additional, intensive one-day training and development institute on Sept. 20. Some panels focusing specifically on Native American gaming will include “Land into Trust for Gaming: What Do the New Federal Regulations Mean?,” “Regulation & Reform: Evolving Tribal Gaming Commissions” and “Unions & Tribes: How Odd Bedfellows Can Work Together?”