Physical gaming trade shows likely to return in reduced scale – Scientific Games

In a post-pandemic world, in-person gaming trade shows and conferences will end up returning but likely on a reduced scale, the management of gaming services and products company Scientific Games indicated today (Tuesday).

“I do believe that virtual is the situation that we’re facing now because of Covid and virtual will probably be something that can last for a couple of years, but at one point we’ll want to be face-to-face again,” Vice-President and Managing Director for Asia, Ken Jolly, indicated today (Tuesday) in the group’s first SG Summit + Virtual Experience for Asia.

“We’re doing that for sales but also I think the trade show scenario will come back. Whether it will be as big, large and bold as it was in the past remains to be seen. The virtual medium is an exciting way to go, is different and I think everyone is excited to come on board to see it. How long will it last? We’ll wait and see”.

The pandemic outbreak has led to the cancellation or postponement of many of the usual large scale conventions and trade shows held in the SAR – including some gaming sector trade shows – with some events transitioning to online versions.

The annual Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia), for example, ended up being delayed to August 17-19 of this year, with an online expo and conference version to be held on May 25.

Overall, Macau’s MICE sector came to a standstill, with the number of MICE events held in Macau falling by around 76 per cent year-on-year to only 362, whilst the number of participants and attendees also showed a year-on-year drop of 54.6 per cent to 914,000, according to official data.

The opening session of the online SG summit included the group’s SVP for Australia & Asia, Adrian Halpenny; SVP for Global Tables & Systems, Rob Bone; VP Global
for Sales Games, Nathaniel Drane; and Sales Director, Asia Trevor Ross.

“I think using this format give us another connection point [to customers] […]. I do think trade shows will stay, they are important and we use them for multiple reasons, not just to launch products, but they are nice natural deadlines for our R&D teams to really knock it out of the park. They drive our business in multiple formats. But I do think this virtual format will be continued because it allows a connection with a large customer base, especially in Asia,” Helpenny stated on this matter.

Meanwhile, Bone noted that the lack of on-site trade shows has had a great impact on sales, with sales teams unable to meet with clients and assess the market.

“We’ve been stuck here in Macau most of us, and a lot of things are happening out there that we are missing out on,” the SVP for Global Tables & Systems noted.

SG reported a US$729 million in consolidated revenue for the first quarter of this year, up by 1 per cent compared to the previous year, while net losses contracted from US$155 million to US$9 million due to gaming business segment receivable credit allowances, inventory and goodwill impairment charges.

The Las Vegas-based group has also set out to expand its digital gaming enterprises as a way to move forward with post-pandemic recovery.

Concerning market recovery in Asia, Jolly said that the pandemic situation remained across the board and better vaccination rates would be needed for the business climate to stabilise.

“Last week, Singapore was very positive and suddenly we hear this week it’s going back to a Phase 2 of Covid cases. Until everybody is vaccinated or there is a high percentage of vaccinations across all the countries in Asia we won’t go back to any sort of normal for some time. I think vaccinations are key,” the SG Vice-Director added.