Inside Asian Gaming was among the record number of attendees in London last month as the world’s biggest gaming industry exhibition, ICE, reached spectacular new heights in 2017. By Ben Blaschke
When it comes to the gaming industry, there are trade shows to satisfy every continent and sector. And then there is ICE.
A behemoth of an exhibition dwarfing any of its rivals, this year’s ICE Totally Gaming at London’s impressive ExCeL Centre covered 40,925 square metres of space – 82% bigger than 2012 when the show was last held at its former home at Earl’s Court.
This was also the first year that attendance broke 30,000 with the final figure of 30,213 representing a 5.7% increase on 12 months earlier. Among them were 527 exhibitors from 67 jurisdictions and sovereign states including 51 CEOs of international trade associations and representative bodies.
“ICE week in London has seen the international gaming industry at its inspirational best, said Managing Director of the Gaming Division at Clarion Events, Kate Chambers.
“The 527 exhibitors who travelled to London … set new standards for energy, positivity and sheer creativity. Their contribution to the ICE success story is nothing short of phenomenal and they have made a major contribution to helping us achieve our core objective of ensuring that ICE remains the most influential gaming event in the world.
“Not only are more gaming professionals attending ICE than ever before, encouragingly, they are also spending more time within the show. Our figures demonstrate the average time spent within the exhibition is 1.96 days, an increase of 0.5% on 2016. When this figure is extrapolated out, the number of visitor days at ICE 2017 totaled 59,217.”
The attendance figures not only represent a 42% increase since 2012 but are also indicative of just how far ICE has come since its formative years.
Brazilian football star Roberto Carlos was a special guest at ICE 2017
Originally known as the Amusement Trades Exhibition, the International Casino Expo (ICE) began in 1936 as a niche event organized by makers of the penny machines that fill amusement arcades in English seaside towns. It wasn’t until the 1980s that visitors began arriving from Las Vegas in search of equipment that could be used to transform the American gambling capital into a more family-oriented destination.
Their presence gave organizers an idea and in 1991, having invited 16 British gaming machine manufacturers to exhibit for the first time, the name of the show was officially changed to ICE.
Of course, today’s exhibition is completely unrecognizable even from 25 years ago. Aside from the increasingly jawdropping displays put together by some of the industry’s biggest players – Novomatic’s massive booth covered more than 10% of the show’s total floor space this year at 4,500 square metres – exhibitors are also using celebrity appearances to stand out from the crowd.
Among this year’s VIP guests were former heavyweight boxing world champion Frank Bruno, darts legends Phil “The Power” Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld and Brazilian football superstar Robert Carlos who showed off his skills for PlanetWin365.
“The 2017 edition of ICE has been our biggest yet and it was fantastic to have international sports stars stepping into the ‘World Theatre of Gaming’ at this year’s show,” said ICE Senior Marketing Manager Dan Stone.
“The feedback from exhibitors, sponsors and visitors alike has been overwhelmingly positive and I can assure all of our stakeholders that we’re already lining up a winning goal in terms of innovations for next year’s event.” ICE Totally Gaming will return to London from 6 to 8 February 2018.