At noon Tuesday, “Sopranos” stars James Gandolfini and Steven R. Schirripa (Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri) cut the ribbon at the Las Vegas Convention Center, opening the doors to the 2007 Global Gaming Expo, which drew a record 30,000 gambling industry professionals from 107 countries.
The actors were on hand to launch Aristocrat Technologies’ “Sopranos”-themed slot machine, which was unveiled along with hundreds of other new games and industry products from more than 750 vendors.
The gambling industry has long shied away from mentioning even a fictional connection with organized crime, but “maybe we’ve moved beyond that,” said Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., the association’s chief executive.
Tim Parrott, the CEO of Aristocrat, said his company was aware of possible image issues with “The Sopranos” and sought the opinions of state regulators before developing the game. “It’s showbiz,” was their response, Parrott said. “Everybody took it as part of the folklore of the gaming industry.”
First we saw two minor character actors from The Sopranos: John Fiore and Frank Santorelli. It's interesting that Indians get called mobsters while a major (non-Indian) company produces a mobster slot machine.
Then we saw Hulk Hogan posing with fans. Among the people who posed with him were Ernie Stevens, chairman of NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association), and Tex Hall, former chairman of NCAI (National Congress of the American Indian). It's interesting that Stevens and Hall were about as big as Hogan.
Then Adam Beach came by. He said Law & Order: SVU is almost out of original scripts, which means he'll be on hiatus soon. He was at G2E because he's working on a major production deal with a gaming tribe.
Finally, Sonny Skyhawk came by. His badge listed him as a director of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, whatever that means. No idea why he was there, but he talked about the ailing Floyd Red Crow Westerman. Apparently Westerman had a bad reaction to a drug and isn't doing well.
We're planning to ask another gaming tribe to sponsor a booth at next year's San Diego Comic-Con. The theme: Native Americans in comics, of course. If the booth comes about, we hope to get people such as Adam Beach and Arigon Starr to appear.
Mobsters, wrestlers, Indians, casinos, TV, and comics...they're all part of the scene at G2E.