Stepping into the Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia) is a little like stepping through the wardrobe door into Narnia.
One minute you’re queuing with hundreds of other gambling aficionados in the plush, chandelier-lit corridors of Macau’s Venetian hotel, the next you’re through a set of double doors into a 37,000 square metre hall packed from wall to wall and floor to ceiling with gambling and casino-related exhibits all vying for your attention.
Amid the cacophony – club tracks from live DJs, tumbling coin noises from the many slot machines, enthusiastic shouts from groups around gambling tables – a few themes stand out.
‘Artificial intelligence’ or ‘intelligent software’ features on the advertising of multiple companies involved with both the front and back end of the gambling world, all striving to ride the buzzword of today even if it’s not clear how they’re using AI.
Automation is also everywhere, from robotic arms feeding balls into roulette wheels to ‘Pepper’ robots, human-shaped automatons touted as ‘intuitive companions’.
But despite the atmosphere of high-tech advancements, some elements of the gambling world remain unchanged. Slim girls in high heels and barely-there coordinating outfits are ubiquitous across the room, handing out goodie bags and posing for photos.
The contrast between them and the many men dressed in suits holding business meetings and discussing their products or services with delegates is jarring.
It’s also interesting that the biggest buzzes at the exhibition are around the simple ‘fruit machine’-style games and the traditional card tables with human croupiers, not the more cutting-edge stands offering VR headset experiences or ‘ultimate 3D’ games. A love of gambling is at the heart of this exhibition – and it seems that model doesn’t necessarily need reinventing.