As ICE London continues to expand in size and scope, show organizer Clarion Gaming explains why the event has grown and the steps they’re taking to make sure it does so again this year
Winning streaks are a common occurrence in the gaming business, but one that stretches seven years and counting will turn the heads of even the most jaded casino observers.
But this is the track record Clarion Gaming has set and plans to continue with ICE Totally Gaming, its premier gaming industry tradeshow event, which has been re-christened ICE London and will take place February 5-7 at ExCeL London.
This year’s version of the ICE convention and tradeshow hopes to trade off the runaway success of last year’s go round, which set records for overall size and attendance. According to an independent audit of ICE 2018, a total of 33,536 people attended the event, an 11 percent increase over 2017 visitation figures and the seventh straight year of attendance growth. These visitors hailed from 153 countries; outside of the UK, the largest represented countries at ICE were Malta (1,910 attendees), Germany (1,445), the U.S. (1,253), Austria (1,170), Spain (1,097), Sweden (914), Italy (910), Netherlands (658), Bulgaria (629) and Israel (572). All of the ICE London top ten nations registered year-over-year increases in attendance, with Austria (+228 percent), Bulgaria (+106 percent), Sweden (+51 percent) and the U.S. (+35 percent) showing the most growth.
“Achieving a double digit uplift in attendance and extending the sequence of growth to seven consecutive years is a massive achievement for everyone involved in ICE London,” said Kate Chambers, managing director of Clarion Gaming in a prepared statement. “This is a fantastic collaboration involving the great team at Clarion Gaming and the gaming community at large who travelled to London from a record 153 sovereign states and jurisdictions.”
In addition to record attendance, the tradeshow side of ICE 2018 also boomed—it featured a total of 589 exhibitors from 65 nations occupying 43,500 square meters of net space and 36 of the 44 halls at ExCeL London. Despite occupying an additional hall, density increased year-over-year, with the average number of visitors per stand up 17 percent and the number of visitors per square meter up 12 percent.
“One of the stand-out features of ICE London is the breadth of the gaming offering that’s available for visitors to experience,” Chambers said. “Whereas more regional-centric exhibitions have a narrower focus, ICE London embraces all forms of gaming, a feature which is reflected in the audience profile. This year, the number of visitors interested in bingo, street, poker and social gaming more than doubled. Half of the audience had an interest in sports betting and two-thirds in the casino business. Of the newer gaming sectors, 20 percent of the ICE London attendance had an interest in eSports. It’s this mix of verticals that delivers the dynamic that keeps the ICE London experience fresh and relevant to all sectors of the industry.”
Indeed, potential interest for ICE London 2019 is such that the event has committed to more net floor space at ExCeL London than ever before—45,500 square meters, or roughly 5 percent more space than last year.
“It’s important to stress this isn’t a one-off increase in demand for space, but part of a trend which stretches back to 2012, when the show floor comprised 22,500 square meters,” Chambers said. “Since then, ICE London has grown year-on-year and is now more than twice its 2012 size, a remarkable feat when you consider the level of merger and acquisition activity that’s taken place in the industry over that period.”
The need for additional space is usually driven by attendee interest in a new, trending gaming topic and vendor response with new products and technologies to help operators exploit these new potential businesses. “While the 2017/18 growth was due to the demand for space from payments providers, the 2019 growth has, in part, been driven by sportsbook and iGaming companies following the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA),” Chambers said. “As the most international gaming event on the calendar, exhibitors know that they can use ICE London as a method of launching into any gaming jurisdiction in the world.”
It is this innovation dynamic that inspired the creative marketing campaign for ICE London 2019: #spiritofgenius. This program celebrates the genius of the international gaming industry which is widely recognized as one of the world economy’s earliest adopters and developers of new technology. According to press materials, the Clarion marketing team has represented a series of inventions that have changed the world as illustrations of the scale of game changing genius found at ICE London. The series of #spiritofgenius adverts feature iconoclastic inventions encompassing braille to the bar code, abstract art to applied mathematics and the printing press to the contraceptive pill.
“We thought it was about time that someone started banging the drum on behalf of an industry that has consistently been among the very first to embrace new technology and is among the most creative sectors anywhere in the world, employing the most talented individuals and the brightest minds,” Chambers said. “With close to 600 exhibitors from 60 nations using our event to unveil their very latest products, ICE London is the very best place to experience the spirit of genius that drives the totality of the gaming experience.”
NEW THIS YEAR
In addition to more space and a new marketing campaign, the tradeshow portion of ICE London will also feature an enhanced Consumer Protection Zone, which was launched to great interest at ICE London 2018, and it has been given a new high-profile home on the show floor. The Zone, which will be slightly bigger in 2019, has been relocated to the high footfall area adjacent to the Bingo Pavilion and the Totally Gaming Academy in the South Hall at ExCeL London. The move reflects the importance that Responsible Gambling plays in the culture of all serious operators across all of the gaming verticals.
“As fines for failings in the area of consumer protection become more punitive, excelling in Responsible Gambling, or safer gambling as defined by the UK Gambling Commission, not only impacts a brand’s reputation for integrity and fairness, but also its bottom line,” said Ewa Bakun, director of industry insight and engagement at Clarion Gaming. “Coupled with advertising restrictions and technology advancements that assist more informed approaches to consumer protection, Responsible Gambling will continue to dominate industry discussions and debates in 2019. The ICE London Consumer Protection Zone serves as a focal point for all interested parties, including regulators, research agencies, treatment organizations and those commercial organizations that have harnessed the power of new technology to progress the social responsibility message.”
As in year’s past, the conference portion of ICE London will showcase ICE VOX, a series of seven session tracks that includes the International Casino Conference and World Regulatory Briefing as well tracks covering the topics of Modernizing Lotteries, Advertising and Marketing, Cybercrime and Security, Artificial Intelligence and eSports. ICE London will also have some free content, highlighted by a day-long session titled Sports Betting in New Markets, sponsored by NIGA, ICE North America and Brazil Gaming Congress.
European Casino Association all in when it comes to ICE London
BY CLARION GAMING
The European Casino Association (ECA) represents the interests of 900 casinos and over 70,000 employees in 28 member countries across Europe and has been a longtime supporter of ICE London’s learning and networking opportunities. Ahead of the event’s 2019 edition, which will take place February 5-7 at ExCeL London, ECA Chairman Per Jaldung talked about the growing importance of technology to the casino industry, the challenges facing the land-based sectors and why conversations had at ICE are a key to gaming’s future. Excerpts from this discussion follow:
What do you anticipate to be the main focus at ICE London 2019 in terms of new technologies and new products?
JALDUNG: ICE London is the annual centerpiece for our industry as it offers the chance to find those new products and technologies that are truly innovative and make a real difference to our industry. I am, for example, particularly interested in the practical application of the new technologies that we have heard much about over the past years, such as virtual reality, cashless payment solutions and artificial intelligence.
A trend we are seeing in the land-based casino sector is the growing role of non-gaming to provide a wide spectrum of entertainment offers to our customers, both current and future. There is a lot of potential in this area and I really look forward to discussing these and other interesting points with industry leaders gathering for the International Casino Conference that we are jointly organizing with Clarion Gaming on February 4.
In terms of jurisdictions, where do you see the big growth opportunities for the gaming industry in 2019 and what are the implications for the industry?
JALDUNG: There are of course global hotspots like Japan, Brazil and other countries whereas in Europe it is a whole different story. The growth opportunities for the land-based casino industry is in the development of entertainment related-services and to look into expanding to the online gaming side of the business as more and more European countries are reconsidering their online licensing schemes to tackle those offers currently operating illegally in the respective countries. Licensed land-based casinos certainly consider this as a growth opportunity.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges facing your sector of the industry over the next 12 months?
JALDUNG: A key point that the gambling industry in Europe has to tackle is that of possible advertising restrictions, which are on the political agenda or even already up and coming in some countries. A responsible approach to marketing and provision of gambling services is, and should be, within the genes of the licensed land-based casino industry and there needs to be a real understanding of this issue across the industry. If licensed casinos cannot advertise, they are even more at a competitive disadvantage to the illegal offers. The public has to know that there is a legal, controlled and compliant gaming product out there—advertising is one of the most important instruments to tackle illegal offers.
Advertising, if done responsibly, is in fact a crucial tool within national gambling regulation as it very effectively supports the channeling of demand for gambling services to licensed offers. Without this tool, it is only illegal offers that will benefit as they continue to provide their services and advertise for them if the national gambling regulator does not take strong and concerted action. This will only exacerbate the problem as illegal gambling providers ignore national measures aim at promoting responsible gambling.
What genius ideas do you hope to see at ICE London?
JALDUNG: Besides the exciting products and technologies that are the heart of ICE London and surely will astound with their genius, I am very interested to hear from industry leaders. The genius of ICE London for me is very much connected to the people attending and the conversations [that take place]. The show brings together all relevant actors from regulators to politicians, academia and global thought leaders. This environment lends itself very well for exchange, long-term visions and concrete collaboration both at the International Casino Conference, ICE VOX and on the show floor.
Expansion Plans: Clarion Gaming pushes its ICE franchise overseas with the announcement of ICE North America
Clarion Gaming pushes its ICE franchise overseas with the announcement of ICE North America
Clarion Gaming has unveiled plans to transition its successful ICE Sports Betting USA conference into ICE North America, which is scheduled to take place May 13-15 in Boston, Mass.
The new conference will continue to showcase content on sports betting as well as four additional categories: iGaming, affiliate marketing, iLottery and eSports. These gaming verticals were chosen after close consultation with local stakeholders, according to a press release. The ultimate goal is for ICE North America to become the showcase event for the entire U.S. and Canada iGaming ecosystem.
“Following the U.S. Supreme Court PASPA ruling, it has become clear that there’s a need for a professional and, most importantly, a trusted platform to help drive the future of gaming across the continent,” said Kate Chambers, managing director of Clarion Gaming. “ICE North America will serve as a stakeholder meeting place and provide the opportunity for brands to establish a competitive advantage in what is a tremendously dynamic market filled with opportunities and cross collaboration across all our five key areas of focus. ICE is recognized as being the most respected event brand in the gaming space and has all of the necessary credentials and energy to be at the heart of the development of the industry in North America.”
A new creative marketing campaign for ICE North America, called iPIONEER, was also unveiled. “It is a campaign which highlights the new ground that’s being broken in the sector,” Chambers said. “Building on top of the incredible foundations laid by ICE Sports Betting USA and GiGse before it, we want to continue driving a dynamic approach to our events in the U.S., ensuring the speakers in Boston bring unique insight, from both inside and outside of the gaming industry. iPIONEER will also translate to the learning opportunities we offer delivering more ‘how to’ sessions, helping pioneering companies to showcase their brands and connect with the best of the best from the multiverse of sports betting and interactive gaming.”