The most important event for all people in gambling industry, ICE Totally Gaming, brought plenty of innovations and new business deals this year.
The wait is finally over, as February 2 marked the start of the biggest and most important convention in the gambling industry. The event is unique because it gathers all people from the industry at one place, which is a perfect opportunity for signing new business deals and cooperation between different companies and developers.
Representatives of all best online gambling sites, as well as of numerous land-based casinos and software developers were present. This year the main topics were related to the future of both online and land-based gambling.
Another hot topic these days was responsible gaming which mostly refered to iGaming and daily fantasy sports and their future in the United States. Other key trends were: virtual reality games, remote betting and mobile gaming.
International Gaming Awards were a great insight to guide visitors to best exhibitions and stands. The winner of the best online casino award, LeoVegas, together with other winners were present at ExCel Center in London which hosted this year’s ICE convention.
It is important to note that this year the convention broke all records, as over 526 exhibitors from 62 nations were present. This is the reason why many call ICE Totally Gaming the United Nations of the casino industry.
ICE Totally Gaming also follows trends as they have developed ICE app, which helps visitors navigate Technopolis and find stands and panels.
After the opening ceremony where organizers welcomed all present on the main boulevard of London’s ExCel Centre, one of the organizers, Kate Chambers, wished everyone another successful ICE and of course, a successful 2016 to all 529 exhibitors from 62 nations on behalf of the ICE team.
First day of the convention is traditionally reserved for panels and presentations which all have free attendance. Topics were various, from mobile gambling which is in expansion to traditional land-based casinos and their design.
Olivert Lovrat’s presentation attracted a lot of attention, because of his view on the land-based casino industry. Considering the amount of the casino resorts that are opened each year and how much money is invested in their design it is strange that design of the casino itself rarely ever changes.
“The gaming industry is missing a trick. In every way the things we are doing now are different to our grandparents, but where is the level of innovation on the gaming floor? Casinos should be using space differently and increasing food and beverage options,” concluded Mr. Lovat.
Another presentation was about eSports and whether it should be considered gaming. It is currently a crucial problem in the United States as almost all states have ruled them illegal, considering them gambling. Higher court is set do make final decision in July.
There is a debate amongst members of Congress questioning whether the Federal Government should legislate skill-based gaming, sports betting and DFS, because there is confusion about their structure, or to be more precise, about whether these games are of skill or knowledge.
Another presentation had different topics, from mobile gambling and its expansion to various advice for all game developers on ways to avoid pitfalls while working on different best online casino games.
This event is a great opportunity for learning programme from top-notch gaming experts who held lectures and are there to offer solutions to key challenges within the iGaming market. All young developers also get a chance to show their new accomplishments and get a chance to work with some of the best in the business.
The first day is mostly used for meeting new people who think likewise and finding new possible partners or offering new ideas to experts who will know how to use them best. On the other hand, the second day is reserved for visiting stands and finding more about innovations from the best developers and software providers.
After interesting panels and discussions it is time to look at what new providers have to offer. International Gaming Awards 2016 ceremony was held only a few days before ICE and it was obvious that winners will have the most to offer.
Playtech prepared some interesting content for all visitors. Their stand was hard to miss as it was one of the biggest with a huge number of screens and fully equipped conference room. They even nicknamed their stand Playtech Academy. Their main product was “Playtech ONE” system which delivers any products to any device with only one account.
Another eye-catching stand was of course the one by Net Entertainment, as they have more than one reason to celebrate. They announced new brand slots for spring. The first novelty is Jimi Hendrix slot which will be launched on April 21 and Motörhead slot coming in September. As the company’s CEO said they play to rock on.
“NetEnt celebrates 20th birthday, so we’re going bigger and better than ever. Our stand is an immersive experience demonstrating how we are constantly working with innovation, implementing the cutting edge of virtual reality and sound technology to take our products into the future,” said Per Eriksson, CEO of NetEnt.
Other developers such as Microgaming, Yggdrasil and CORE Gaming also presented new breakthroughs. Aside from developers, all the best online casinos like Mr Green, LeoVegas, Royal Panda and other had their stands, as well as all leading land-based casinos.
We cannot forget new games, which all fans of best casino games are the most excited about. IGT delighted everyone with new 3D games which offer amazing design and edge-cutting graphic. There were also a great number of thematic games and some updates to the classic games.
Evolution Gaming decided to bring virtual casinos to a whole new level. With the use of 15–18 HD cameras which bring the feeling of the real casino to the technical devices, players will not have to leave their homes to enjoy their favorite games. To add 3D slots which are a new trend in the industry, it seems that technology is becoming an inseparable part of the industry.
Despite the expansion of the online casinos and online gambling, land-based casino resorts remain popular. New spectacular resorts are planed around the world with the focus on the already known hubs, and possibly new ones in Vladivostok and Manila.
Besides new products, all developers prepared special beta testing and giveaways for all visitors. Some even had special guests; star of the first day was former football star Michael Owen, while the second day Evander Holyfield met with fans and told them about his professional life.
However, it was not only about business this year as another star at the convention, Ali G., gave his best to cheers up the audience with his famous impersonations and asked people funny questions.
The day continued even after the official closing of the ExCel Center, as numerous parties were held around London. From classical to the thematic ones, visitors could enjoy the fun.
After quite a busy day, the last day was quieter especially as the previous nights plenty of parties occurred around London, the most interesting one being Playtech’s ‘do.
However, the day was not without events as traditionally the last day of ICE is reserved for Pitch ICE, a series of panels where amateurs presented their ideas and experts had a perfect opportunity to hear fresh opinions and maybe include them in their next innovations.
On the ground floor the biggest crowd was around SBTech’s stand where they presented their innovations, and their experts predicted future of online gambling. According to them more and more developers and providers will work on personalization of their products and games.
Another topic that was in focus this year was the story about regulations which are causing a lot of troubles to all in the industry. Europe is working hard to find a way and regulate its market, but it seems that South America might regulate its casino industry as well.
Three main countries of interest in the region are Mexico, Brazil and Columbia. Columbia is the closest to the solution as this market published its draft regulations right before Christmas last year and they are guaranteed to go through in the next couple of months.
We cannot forget the Asian market which, even though facing some troubles, is still in expansion. Besides land-based casinos, there were panels about flexibility of the Asian market which easily adapts to all changes, especially technological ones. According to the researches young gamblers in Chine are not showing an interest in slots, especially with the rise of mobile devices.
We can conclude that ExCel Center in London was really busy from February 2–4. After everything was wrapped up, the organizers agreed that this was the most successful ICE untill now. This 23rd ICE Totally Gaming gathered over 2.5k visitors who enjoyed and visited 529 exhibitions. As always, ICE is a great chance to meet people from across the globe.
Hopefully, the trend will continue and ICE 2017 will have even more visitors and exhibitors which will present even better innovations and breakthroughs that will further improve the gambling industry. From this moment on, the wait and the official preparations for ICE 2017 can start.