GMB - Once again, we are getting closer to a new edition of ICE London, a must-attend event for all the industry. What are your expectations less than a month away from the show?
Kate Chambers - My expectations for ICE London always begins with a key focus on acknowledging the quality and creativity of our exhibitor community, which is unsurpassed in gaming. The starting point for any exhibition is its exhibitors: great exhibitors attract serious buyers and the more buyers you can attract, the more exhibitors are interested in your event and so the process goes on. We have worked extremely hard to attract the very best in gaming and this year we have 612 brands drawn from 66 nations, occupying a record 44,500 sqm of net space. No other exhibitions in our space can come close to delivering this quality covering all of the gaming verticals and in such numbers. So, in response to what I’m expecting, well the answer is Innovation – and lots of it!
What can you tell us about the innovative Gaming's Spirit of Genius campaign introduced for this year's edition?
This year’s Genius campaign was born out of our desire for someone to start 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. Featuring more than 600 exhibitors from 60+ nations, ICE London is the very best place to experience the spirit of genius that drives the totality of the gaming experience. The #spiritofgenius campaign is the most extensive in the history of the ICE brand, supported by above- and below-the-line spend across a multitude of media channels.
The 2018 edition of ICE London was officially the biggest on record. What do you expect this year in terms of numbers such as visitors, exhibiting companies, presence of countries, etc?
The net floor space has grown from the 2018 figure of 43,500sqm to 45,500sqm, an increase of just under 5 percent. This is part of a trend which stretches back to 2012, when the show floor comprised 22,500sqm. 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. We can’t influence change, but as professional event organisers, steeped in gaming, our job is to respond quickly to developments in the market – either technological or legislative – and to provide the best possible environment in which businesses can conduct business. 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). Because ICE London serves as a barometer of the world industry, we can anticipate that big macro changes, such as the repeal of PASPA, will be reflected in the visitor and exhibitor metrics at show. Clearly, when you have the world’s biggest and the world’s most international gaming event, it will reflect the global industry in all of its formats; it’s one of the key attractions of attending ICE London and the reason why the attendance continues to grow.
What gaming themes, topics or trends do you imagine will be the most relevant this year?
In terms of key topics, Social Responsibility is part of the DNA of ICE London. As fines for failings in the area of consumer protection become more punitive, advertising restrictions alongside technology advancements that assist more informed approaches to consumer protection, I’m certain Responsible Gambling will continue to dominate industry discussions and debates in 2019. The Consumer Protection Zone, which we launched at ICE London 2018, has been given a new high profile home on the show floor. It will be slightly bigger this year and it 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. I think the move reflects the huge importance that Responsible Gambling plays in the culture of all serious operators across all of the gaming verticals. The Consumer Protection Zone will serve as a focal point for all interested parties, including regulators, research agencies, treatment organisations and those commercial organisations that have harnessed the power of new technology to progress the social responsibility message.
In terms of other trends, I’m also excited to be launching our latest initiative addressing something close to my heart and that’s the issue of single-use plastics and their impact on the environment. We are calling upon our exhibitors and partners to work with us on the first ICE Graphics Amnesty, a very worthy, much needed project that supports both the environment and the local community whilst helping gaming do its bit for the planet. In the first initiative of its type, we have partnered with Ecobooth, the world’s first genuinely zero waste events production company, and ICE London’s 612 exhibitors to collect the most common event stand waste materials, which will then be recycled into a sheet material and used to make an array of products and outdoor furniture for the local community and used in communal spaces surrounding ExCeL London.
For any of our exhibitors who haven’t yet signed up, they can be part of the ICE Graphic Amnesty by purchasing a unique bag, which will then be used to place all their stand graphics into and then leave on the stand for collection by Ecobooth’s partner on the final day of the event.
Online gaming is the fastest moving sector in gaming worldwide with new jurisdictions accepting what seems an inevitable market. How big is the presence of this market in ICE London and what can visitors expect to find at the show?
Up until very recently, it was appropriate to make the distinction between online and land-based, however the introduction of an omni-channel approach to content has shifted the discussion. The narrative is now about the creation and delivery of compelling content that meets the gaming entertainment needs of consumers in the digital age. Hence, we have exhibitors developing content for bricks-and-mortar gaming who also deploy those games online. It’s all about the content.
What will be on offer this year at ICE VOX Conferences?
The 2019 edition of ICE VOX will be serving up something quite different this year, while still delivering what I believe to be the most comprehensive learning programme in gaming. ICE VOX will feature 120 high profile, tier-one thought leaders delivering 40+ hours of business-centric learning. We are using four branded areas that offer distinct ways of learning, ranging from the direct, information-based ‘Elevator’, through to ‘Hive’, where delegates will be able to meet with regulators, operators and policy makers in a series of roundtable networking sessions. ‘Counsel’ will feature Oxford Union style debates and motions all facilitated by a professional debate team, while ‘Boardroom’ invites inspirational thought leaders from outside the gaming universe to provide their insight. Finally, the Speaker Clinic delivers a one-to-one feedback Masterclass, as delegates can make presentations to our professional speakers and receive an exclusive critique and guidance. The updates we have introduced aim to deliver a new kind of immersive learning experience. The fact that ICE VOX takes place alongside the world’s most influential gaming technology event means delegates can learn about the latest trends and then speak directly with the innovators whose genius products and services have the potential to change the way in which the industry does business.
What role does Latin America play at this year's edition? And what about Brazil's participation in the show, either in terms of visitors and exhibitors?
As with every year, we are proud to host exhibitors and visitors from across Central, South and Latin America, as well as those in the Caribbean gaming industry, and 2019 is no exception. Following significant regulatory advances in Brazil and Colombia in recent years, it’s no surprise there will be a great deal of interest in those markets, which is why Clarion Gaming will be hosting a special LatAm Reception at 18:00pm on Tuesday, 6 February at the Hive theatre, to provide the most up-to-date and detailed gaming insights and C-Level initiatives in the region, ahead of our Brazilian Gaming Congress and Juegos Miami events this year. The reception will allow invitees to learn more about the future of these two LatAm events and how they are set to provide the forum for all sides of the industry to come together and lay the foundation stones for a sustainable future. The LatAm reception is likely to become booked out, so register for free if you'd like to join us - it's first come, first served, so don't miss it.
Latin America will also be a key focus at ICE VOX this year, as part of our country roundtables which provide C-Level executives with direct access to government officials, regulators and industry leaders from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico to respond to changes in legislation and how to create sustainable betting markets in these regions going forward.
Source: Exclusive GMB