Industry poised for “biggest-ever” ICE London

February 2, 2023 9:52 PM

Industry poised for “biggest-ever” ICE London

Photo: Shutterstock
  • Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, CDC Gaming Reports
February 2, 2023 9:52 PM
  • Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, CDC Gaming Reports

Clarion Gaming has confirmed next week’s ICE London 2023 will be the biggest on record, occupying 41 halls of its London ExCeL home.

Having returned from the pandemic last April with a scaled-back offering, this year’s ICE will occupy 51,466 square metres of the London-docklands exhibition centre, exceeding the previous high of 49,690 m2 in 2020.

Sister show iGB Affiliate London will occupy ExCel’s remaining three halls, with a week’s worth of satellite events throughout London leading the industry to dub next week’s event “World Gaming Week.”

Clarion Gaming managing director Stuart Hunter estimated that there are at least 59 side events, offering networking and learning opportunities that cover the spectrum of the industry.

“Even if you forget about the tradeshow floor at ICE, which I know is the focal point, but if you forget about that for a minute, there are hundreds and hundreds of meetings. Almost a dozen boats have been hired across the Thames that are hosting meetings and will be awash with influential people from the gaming and gambling industry. From a global-industry perspective, this week pulls everything together”, he said.

Back at ExCel, delegates can expect to see the main features from last year’s ICE back and bigger than ever. The conference agenda kicks off on Monday 6 February, with the International Casino Conference (ICC) and World Regulatory Briefing (WRB).

The former will feature a highly anticipated keynote by Palms Casino Resort Las Vegas general manager Cynthia Kiser Murphey and San Manuel Casino CEO Laurens Vosloo, who will share their experiences of launching the first tribal-owned casino in Vegas in April 2022. In total, ICC will feature 150 industry thought leaders.

Meanwhile, WRB features a special address by Gambling Commission of Great Britain executive director Tim Miller and an update on the long-awaited UK gambling reform white paper from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport’s gambling and lotteries deputy director Sarah Fox.

ICE Vox Masterclasses also make a return this year, having been introduced last year to help delegates make the most of relevant conference content, while still being able to factor in time on the show floor.

Hunter says the three-day agenda of C-level focused content has now sold out. It features four distinct masterclass tracks on igaming, safer gambling, modernising lotteries and new markets.

Vox includes sessions on mastering the single customer view, integrating open-banking into customer onboarding, jurisdiction-specific roundtables and how to integrate new verticals.

A record 68 nations are set to attend ICE this year, rising from the previous highest country count of 65 in February 2020. The global distribution the show’s 623 exhibitors stretches from Argentina to Australia, Macao to Mexico and Ukraine to the US, with the African nations of Chad and Namibia among those attending for the first time this year.

Hunter says the main features of the show floor will be familiar to returning delegates, but bigger. Novomatic will host its usual showstopping stand. “I’ve had a bit of a sneak peek on how they’re presenting themselves this year and I think it’s going to it’s going to blow people’s minds”, Hunter said.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Protection Zone (CPZ), in its fifth year at ICE, has taken up residence in a bigger and more prominent location.

“It’s really exciting”, Hunter said. “I hope it shows our commitment to bringing consumer protection to the front of conversation under ICE. The level of support we get from the industry for it is great. I can only see it growing and growing. I could see it potentially being an entire hall one year soon. That’s our aspiration, really.”

Located right in front of the N1 visitors entrance, CPZ exhibitors include the Gambling Commission, Gamcare, the Responsible Gambling Council, and affiliate compliance monitor Rightlander.

The CPZ also hosts a programme of conference sessions on safer gambling, compliance, player-analytics tools, and the lived experience of those affected by gambling addiction.

Looking ahead, Clarion announced earlier this week that it had shortlisted Barcelona, London, Madrid, and Paris as potential host cities for next year’s show. Each city will make a formal bid to host ICE for the period 2025–2029. The process will be completed later this year, with an announcement scheduled for the third quarter of 2023.

Hunter would not be drawn on which city had the greatest chance or how the content of the show may evolve in 2024, but he did highlight some factors being taken into consideration.

“We’ve got to be confident that operationally, we could successfully deliver an event like ICE and that our exhibitors could operate in the same way that they do in London. It’s got to have all the experiential needs. For example, hotel stock, the excitement of the city that London offers. So really, we kind of base it on a comparison”, he said.

“London’s hosted ICE in some form for more than 85 years and it’s about to host possibly the best ICE ever. So if you think about it, if the feeling at the end of February is ‘it’s not broken, it’s in the best health of its life’, then that’s a positive for London.”