The world’s biggest gaming industry trade show, ICE, returns to ExCeL London from 6 to 8 February in what promises to be another record-breaking week.
ONCE upon a time, the global gaming behemoth known as ICE – officially the International Casino Expo – was called the Amusement Trades Exhibition and served as a small, niche event organized by the makers of the penny machines found in English amusement arcades.
Fast forward more than 80 years and ICE Totally Gaming is bigger than anyone could ever have imagined with this year’s exhibition to cover 43,500 square meters of floor space at London’s impressive ExCeL and welcome exhibitors from 62 sovereign states and gaming jurisdictions.
“We’ve worked extremely hard in partnership with our stakeholders to create an event that every gaming vertical feels a part of,” explains Kate Chambers, Managing Director at Clarion Gaming. “Events with a global exhibitor base, in turn, attract a global audience of buyers, a chemistry which explains why ICE London continues to grow.”
Running from 6 to 8 February, ICE 2018 will be almost twice the size of the 2012 event, which covered 22,500 square meters of floor space, and is expected to again break attendance records after topping 30,000 visitors for the first time last year with the official figure coming in at 30,213.
“The expansion of ICE has been driven by demand and reflects the dynamics of the international market, which views London as the once-in-theyear opportunity to engage with a really significant and influential community of buyers and influencers,” Chambers continues, noting that visitors from 151 countries attended ICE in 2017.
“This is great news for gaming organizations who we know want a flagship event that showcases the world’s leading innovators from every gaming vertical. Gaming is a global industry and ICE is its global event.”
The show’s global reach is demonstrated by the number of Asian companies now making the trek to London each February. Among this year’s cast are the likes of BBIN, SA Gaming, AsianLogic, Konami, TGG Interactive and Matsui as well as Australian slot machine giant Aristocrat. Inside Asian Gaming will also have a four-strong team present at ICE and we can be found at Booth ND9-D, so be sure to come and say hello!
As usual, there will be some innovative additions to this year’s exhibition with the most prominent being a new Payment Solutions Section and a Consumer Protection Zone.
According to Chambers, “The ICE Payment Solutions Section, comprising 4,000 square meters of space, will provide a focal point for international visitors wanting to meet and engage with the key innovators and thought leaders in the sector. The purpose of ICE is to showcase and reflect the dominant trends in gaming and payments is a case in point. We were approached by a number of leading players wanting to utilize ICE as a platform to reflect these innovations and to create a meeting point for all those international visitors with an interest in the latest technologies and advances.
“We will also be promoting the social responsibility message with the launch of the Consumer Protection Zone. The zone will provide a focus for the social responsibility message and feature key organizations that are promoting social responsibility, as well as being a platform for presentations. The zone is the latest in a series of social responsibility initiatives undertaken by Clarion Gaming, which includes the annual World Regulatory Briefing on Responsible Gambling Innovation, held in London in the Autumn, and the Responsible Gaming Academy training, run by the Totally Gaming Academy.”
The rapid expansion of ICE since moving from its former Earl’s Court home to ExCeL has seen the floor displays of gaming’s biggest companies expand with it and although the event is ultimately about conducting business, it also provides visitors with a spectacular array of visual and aural wonders to keep them entertained for the full three days. As many of our readers know, taking in the whole exhibition is no mean feat!
Among the major attractions in recent years have been some of the world’s highest profile sportsmen with last year’s VIP guests including former heavyweight boxing world champion Frank Bruno, Brazilian football star Roberto Carlos and darts legend Phil “The Power” Taylor.
“It’s gratifying for ICE to have grown for the sixth consecutive year and to have delivered on behalf of our stakeholders,” says Chambers. “But our job is to continually improve and enhance the experience.
“We have been very careful to grow ICE at a manageable pace and avoid the boombust scenario you might associate with an overheating economy. While ICE 2018 is nearly twice the size of the 2012 edition, which was the last held at Earl’s Court, a lot of that growth has been facilitated by the move to ExCeL London and our ability to meet the needs of exhibitors. Our strategy, wherever we operate in the world, is to work with the industry to create events and opportunities that help meet business objectives.”