UPDATED: 23:30 – This article has been updated to include additional comment from the American Gaming Association.
The city of Las Vegas is planning a somber commemoration today for 60 victims who died four years ago in the worst mass shooting committed by an individual in the history of the United States.
The ceremony comes as the gaming industry hopes to continue its recovery from the massive toll of COVID-19 on Monday with the return of the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), the largest gambling conference in North America.
G2E had to be staged digitally last year because of the pandemic.
The number of people who attend G2E this year will be closely watched to gauge how far the industry has progressed in returning to normal.
“While we don’t disclose attendance figures, we’re expecting a robust show with top buyers, CEOs and executives from across the industry as well as a diverse range of exhibitors,” said Meredith Pallante, vice president of global events at the American Gaming Association, which co-produces G2E.
"After one of the most difficult times in our industry's history, G2E is proud to return to Las Vegas next week to show Las Vegas' and our industry's continued resilience in the face of adversity," Pallante said.
A prominent Las Vegas casino executive, who requested anonymity, said the city is as busy as it was during the last G2E in 2019, “except everybody is wearing a mask indoors.”
Those attending G2E next week will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and wear masks during sessions.
After the ceremony for the shooting victims begins at daybreak on Friday in the amphitheater of the Clark County Government Center, a bell will toll and a candle will be lit at the Community Healing Garden in Las Vegas as the names of each of the 60 people killed are read.
The Healing Garden was built after the 2017 shooting.
The mass shooting occurred the night before G2E opened in 2017, when a 64-year-old high-roller named Stephen Paddock began firing from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino onto spectators attending a country music concert on the Las Vegas Strip.
More than 1,000 bullets rained down on the crowd, wounding 411 in addition to those who were killed. Another 456 were injured in the resulting panic.
Paddock committed suicide before police reached his room.
After an investigation of more than a year, the FBI announced in January 2019 there was “no single or clear motivating factor” in the mass shooting.
“I think it was a one-off event,” said Chuck Barry, who was a vice president in charge of corporate security and surveillance for Tropicana Entertainment in Las Vegas when the shooting occurred.
“We all have to remember, that up until this shooting, there had never been an active shooting or a mass casualty event where the suspect shot from an occupied hospitality structure into a public crowd,” said Barry, who remains a casino security consultant as the owner of Charles H. Barry & Associates LLC in Las Vegas.
After the shooting, casinos tightened security with new measures such as prohibiting access by visitors to the back section of their facilities.
Similar shooting incidents have also occurred in recent years in the Philippines and Chile.
But terrorism is a greater threat to casinos than random mass shootings, Barry said.
“There are publications by terrorist organizations that, in the past, have named Las Vegas as a potential target,” Barry said.
The 1 October Memorial Committee of Las Vegas is leading an effort to build a permanent memorial at the concert venue where the 2017 shooting occurred.
MGM Resorts International, which owns Mandalay Bay and the concert venue where the shots were fired, announced plans in August to donate part of that land for the permanent memorial.