Clarion Gaming’s MD, Kate Chambers, looks ahead to the forthcoming ICE London and explains why comparisons with Davos are flattering.
International Casino Review: ICE 2017 was another record breaking event with 30,000 visitors, 151 nations represented and more net space occupied by international gaming innovators than ever before. Where do you go from that lofty position?
Kate Chambers: Well, what you don’t do is sit back, take your foot off the pedal and wallow in a sea of self-congratulations.
Of course, it’s gratifying to have met the vast majority of our objectives, for ICE to have grown for the sixth consecutive year and to have delivered on behalf of our stakeholders.
It’s a cliché, but in my business you are only as good as your last show and that truism means that the focus has to be on how we address those areas which didn’t go to plan, to maximise on those that did and to add to the ICE London experience.
It sounds a very simplistic approach, but our job is to continually improve and enhance the experience, which starts when people register to attend online and ends when they arrive back home.
Enhancements can be macro, in terms of new features or sections, but they can also be smaller or incremental improvements. The key thing is to never stand still.
ICR: What macro changes can visitors expect to experience at the event?
KC: The most tangible are the addition of new sections for Payments and the Consumer Protection Zone, both of which are firsts for ICE London.
The ICE Payment Solutions Section, comprising 4,000 sq m 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 utilise 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.
I am delighted that we have been able to respond to the needs of the industry in this way and I am confident the resource that we are putting behind the ICE Payment Solutions Section will be well received by visitors.
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 organisations that are promoting social responsibility, as well as being a platform for presentations.
We will be creating an agenda with demos and presentations from regulators, providers and operators. We also hope to bring government officials, policy-makers and regulators to the Zone as part of the World Regulatory Assembly (WrA) and International Legislators’ Day programme.
The industry has made important head- way in helping to make gambling an entertainment experience, as opposed to a negative or destructive one, and there have been some really significant technology- driven advances in the fields of responsible gambling using data analytics. It’s totally appropriate that these are showcased at ICE London.
ICR: You have announced the launch of ICE Africa, can you explain your thinking?
KC: Our strategy has always been to partner with the industry and that’s exactly what we have done in Africa.
After a successful experience on the continent, where we tested the water with our Gaming Africa event, we took the strategic decision to fast track our presence, transitioning the 2018 event into the first ICE Africa, which will comprise an exhibition and co-located ICE VOX style conference dedicated to the development of the domestic industry.
Whilst the scale of ICE Africa will not be the same as ICE London, we will be bringing the same level of commitment, thinking, creativity and professionalism that has made ICE London the world’s favourite and most international gaming expo.
ICE Africa will be an event where the industry can meet, network, see the very latest gaming innovations, share best practice and progress in a strategic and sustainable manner.
The ICE Africa team is already in place and working with our stakeholders in order to deliver on our pledge to create a world class business event for the continent.
Every business decision such as this comes with its own risks, but we have to be prepared to be bold and to act decisively.
The industry is behind us and I’m confident that, providing we remain true to our brand vision and principles, ICE Africa will be a success.
ICR: Someone described ICE as the Davos of gaming, do you recognise that description?
KC: I think it’s a very flattering description. Davos brings together the most influential economic and political leaders in the world.
ICE London does a similar thing in so far as we host international gaming regulators, industry thought leaders, the CEOs of every major international gaming organisation, elected politicians and the vast majority of trade associations drawn from every continent.
When an event develops momentum, these type of credentials start to come to the fore. If observers choose to refer to ICE London as the Davos of gaming, I’m certainly not going to object!