“ICE London reflects what’s taking place across all sectors”

Clarion invites the industry to ICE 2020
Kate Chambers, Managing Director of Clarion Events.

(Exclusive interview).- Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming, talked with Focus Gaming News about this year’s ICE London.

ICE London has the ability to improve year after year, despite every edition outscoring the previous one. Thus, the 2020 ICE London is expected to be the biggest, most relevant show to date.

Kate Chambers, Managing Director of Clarion Gaming, organiser of ICE London, talked to Focus Gaming News about this year’s event and shared some insight about the way to go to manage this event.

What can we expect from the ICE 2020 expo floor? Will there be major changes from the 2019 edition?

Delegates will experience the biggest ICE show on record, comprising 633 exhibiting brands occupying 49,500sqm of net floor space.  We have introduced a new format and new tracks for ICE VOX, our Totally Gaming Academy will be providing taster sessions of its courses and we have introduced major new features, not least the Esports Arena that will co-host a $250,000 US prize money tournament.

It’s the largest feature that we have ever had at ICE London.  Undertaken and developed in partnership with GG.BET, it will feature a custom-built stage, an educational auditorium, commentator ICE box, partner DATA.BET lounge, a themed bar and a betting hatch allowing players to ‘bet’ ICE and GG.BET chips in order to simulate eSports wagering.

The Esports Arena will provide visitors with the practical tool kit and strategic insights necessary to take full commercial advantage of what is one of the industry’s fastest-growing wagering sectors.

We will have eight of the best Counter Strike teams in the world competing, playing real-time games which will be streamed to fans around the world, all of which will be live on the ICE London show floor.

For land-based operators interested in how to produce a tournament, we will be effectively building an authentic eSports show live in front of them. Highlighting the level of production necessary to deliver a tournament on this scale, the Arena will allow delegates to go behind the scenes with our production team, as well as providing player interviews throughout the competition, showcase broadcast editing insights and deliver tournament structure and data/performance analysis.

The educational auditorium will feature a full schedule of presentations on topics such as how to use eSports data to create odds, eSports recruiting and eSports wagering.  It promises to be one of the most exciting and ambitious initiatives that we have ever undertaken, enabling our delegates to ‘dive into the future’. Add to this our Pitch ICE initiative for fledgling businesses and over 70 first-time exhibitors and you have an incredibly exciting, vibrant and best-in-breed gaming technology proposition with the focus firmly on the future.

ICE London has seen a 73% increase in attendance from 20,829 visitors in 2011 to 36,093 in 2019. What numbers are you expecting in 2020? Is it safe to say that Clarion will double the number from 2011 in this year’s edition, considering that last year ICE London registered more than 35k visitors?

Of course, event metrics such as attendance levels are an important part of the debate based on the argument that a popular and in-demand event is, by definition, a successful one. However, I believe the events industry is overly reliant on attendance as the defining measure, which is why I also look to the emotional response that ICE London provokes. I appreciate that this is much more subjective, but I think it reveals a lot about how the brand is engaging with its stakeholders. Having said that, we go into ICE London 2020 on the back of some significant and consistent growth. Physically, ICE London now occupies 40 of the 44 halls at ExCeL London, which equates to just over 90 per cent of the available space. When you reach that scale and achieve the right balance of established and new international exhibitors covering every gaming vertical and supported by a ‘best in breed’ Conference programme in ICE VOX – then you have a good chance of capturing the imagination of the international gaming and gambling community.

We’ve also worked extremely hard and I believe, creatively, in our marketing and communications to try and engage with the global community in a meaningful way.

We go into ICE London 2020 on the back of some significant and consistent growth.

My main wish or hope is that all of our stakeholders enjoy their time with us in London and experience a really productive and successful ICE London. If that’s the case, then we’ve been successful.

All sectors of the industry will be featured in the 2020 edition of ICE London. While sports betting and online gambling have been gaining considerable relevance around the world, other verticals continue to thrive. Is there a segment that Clarion believes that systematically performs well no matter if other verticals gain momentum?

We know from the research that we undertake that a stand-out reason for attending ICE London is that it represents the entirety of the gaming/gambling landscape from every geographical perspective. The ICE London show floor reflects what’s taking place across all sectors. We pride ourselves on being very responsive to the industry. In 2019, for example, eSports wasn’t represented to any great extent – this year, delegates will be presented with an 800sqm Arena.

The gambling industry moves extremely fast and it’s our job to represent it.

The gambling industry moves extremely fast and it’s our job to represent it, which means being super agile and working alongside our stakeholders in order to deliver a topical, relevant and authentic experience. All that we do is reflect the dynamics of the industry.

How important is the promotion of responsible gambling to ICE London?

It’s incredibly important. Wherever we take the ICE brand in the world, social responsibility is at the top of the industry and the political agenda. Our Consumer Protection Zone demonstrates the importance we place on responsible gaming. We launched the Consumer Protection Zone (CPZ) in 2018 and the third CPZ will be over 30 per cent bigger than its predecessor and located in a more prominent position, next to the Red Tiger Ampersand VIP Lounge in hall N1 at ExCeL London. The CPZ feature is an important part of the ICE London experience for many of our influential stakeholders and situating it next to the Red Tiger Ampersand VIP Lounge will lead to more important connections being established between our charity partners and distinguished visitors. As well as hosting educational sessions at the CPZ, we will be working with exhibitors to arrange a programme of pop-up talks throughout the show, delivering a clear message that consumer protection is at the heart of the entire industry and not just a feature on an exhibition floor. The developments have been extremely well received by sponsoring organisations and charities alike, with Lee Willows, co-founder and chief executive of YGAM, describing it as an exceptional platform to raise awareness.

So far, our industry sponsors comprising 888 Holdings, ALEA, Aspers, bet365, Gamesys Group, Genting Casinos, GVC Group, Hippodrome Casino, Kindred Group PLC, LeoVegas Group, Microgaming, Sky Betting & Gaming and Videoslots, plus a donation from sponsorship of the WrB webinar series from Onfido, have raised an incredible £65,000, which will be awarded to a gambling industry charity.  It’s an amazing amount of money and approaching double the £35,000 raised last year. From all of my discussions, it’s clear that the industry wants to operate within a well-regulated sector or environment.  When stakeholders walk through the doors at ExCeL London on 4 February, I want them to see and experience a creative industry that has social responsibility at its core.

This year’s theme is “Step Into the Future” and will feature an AR experience with futuristic content. Following this theme, what will be the constant theme at ICE London in the next decade?

I’ve said on many occasions that I’m not a gambling industry expert, but an events professional that works alongside the industry to (hopefully!) put on outstanding business events of all sizes in order to meet the needs of the market.  So, to answer this question, I’m going to defer to a good friend of Clarion Gaming, Richard Schuetz. Richard, who incidentally, was the person responsible for describing a visit to ICE London as ‘stepping into the future’ when asked how he believed ICE London 2030 would look, said, and I paraphrase, that to be sustainable the industry needs to operate with a high degree of integrity and ethics and it has to provide safeguards for the vulnerable. Essentially, it’s a commitment to socially responsible gaming entertainment. Richard is an authority on the industry and I’m happy to go along with his analysis!

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