“We will push the debate towards further progress”

(Exclusive interview).- Kate Chambers, Managing Director at Clarion Gaming, talked with Focus Gaming News about the first edition of ICE North America.

Sports betting, eSports, online gambling and affiliate marketing. They all have one thing in common – they will be featured at the first edition of ICE North America. The 2019 edition of the new show will take place on May 13-15 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Massachusetts.

Kate Chambers, Managing Director at Clarion Gaming, organiser of ICE North America, talked to Focus Gaming News about the expectations for this new event. Chambers also discussed the current situation of the sports betting industry, which is growing exponentially in the US.

ICE North America is set to debut its first edition exactly one year after the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on the act that prevented states from offering the modality. Was the date for this event set with that in mind? What balance can you make of the industry after this whole year of progress?

Indeed, the first day of ICE VOX North America and the day when the ICE North America exhibition will open is on May 14, the exact one year anniversary of the repeal of PASPA. We didn’t exactly aim to hold the event on that day, but the stars aligned and the venue was available, so we are excited to be able to get the industry together to evaluate the first year after the SCOTUS ruling during this inaugural event.

It is however important to note that ICE North America draws on our long-standing experience as the organiser of sports betting events in the US (our ICE Sports Betting USA conference, launched in 2017 even before the US Supreme Court took up the case, sold out in both years we held it, 2017 and 2018, acted as the catalyst of the many decisions that created foundations for this new industry in the US), as an organiser of events in the US (through GiGse in the US since 2011) and as the organiser of the world’s largest gambling show, ICE.

We will no doubt have so much to talk about in terms of lessons and best practice to inform the future decisions, as of course there is a long way to go still until this industry fully settles.

It will have only been a year on the first day of ICE North America, but so much will have happened: a number of states have legalised, sports leagues completely pivoted in their positions to support sports wagering and see a benefit in its regulation, many partnerships and launches will have happened – we will no doubt have so much to talk about in terms of lessons and best practice to inform the future decisions, as of course there is a long way to go still until this industry fully settles.

Two thirds of states in the US have already taken steps to legalise spots betting, how do you think ICE North America will contribute to the growing industry?

As I mentioned above, ICE Sports Betting USA that took place in New York in 2017 and 2018, has been the precursor to ICE North America. As the event was from the beginning positioned at the intersection of sports and gambling, it provided an early platform, when no other organiser did, to facilitate the discussions between operators, law-makers, sports leagues and teams, media brands and networks, regulators and suppliers on establishing the foundations of this new emerging industry so it develops in a sustainable, fair and profitable manner. ICE North America will continue this legacy, while discussing as well how sports wagering drives growth in the many other exciting areas in the US gambling, such as lottery, iGaming, eSports and lottery. The two years of ICE Sports Betting USA have allowed us to build very important relationships with the key stakeholders and that now gives fruits in the number of legislators, sports leagues, sports teams, commercial and tribal casinos and tv networks we’ll have participating to once again push the debate towards further progress.

As the organiser of the biggest events of the gambling industry, what goals have you set for ICE North America? Do you expect international operators to try to take advantage of the opportunities that Clarion events give them in order to expand their operations?

There is no other event as big and as impactful for the growth of gambling globally as ICE London and that’s the ambition for ICE North America. With our legacy and history since 2011 in the US, plus our relationship with NIGA that will drive tribal participation, we are well positioned to do that. International suppliers and operators know the ICE brand well and know that it can deliver, as it does annually in London. And just judging the response we’ve had so far to exhibiting and sponsoring, we know that they fully trust the brand to deliver a similar type of experience in Boston as it does in London, even though, being in the first year, of course we are not replicating the size. Yet.

There is no other event as big and as impactful for the growth of gambling globally as ICE London and that’s the ambition for ICE North America.

ICE North America takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. While the sports betting industry has been experiencing an exponential growth in the US, Massachusetts is a state that still has to legalise the modality. Was the decision to host the event there a strategic one?

Boston is a sport city like no other in the US. Massachusetts is home to the record winner of SuperBowl, New England Patriots, whose owner, President of the Kraft Group, Jonathan Kraft will be speaking at ICE VOX North America. What’s more Massachusetts just recently introduced a number of sports wagering bills and its governor spoke publicly about his support for sports wagering legislation. Massachusetts Gaming Commission is an active regulator who invests more than any other state in Responsible Gambling, an area that we want to fully support as this industry emerges and grows (which is why we’ll be dedicating part of the showfloor to an RG display, curated by the Massachusetts Gambling Commission). Boston is also home to Draftkings, the most successful sports wagering operator to date. I think there is plenty of reasons why Boston has been chosen to host the inaugural ICE North America.

Will you offer a specific section for online sports betting at ICE North America? How do you assess the current situation of that specific segment?

Online sports betting, while well regulated and operated in Europe for over two decades, faces legislative and regulatory challenges in the US, where land-based goals dictate many of the investment decisions. Most of the global suppliers trying to enter this market now understand that and appreciate that they need to be able to cater to the bricks-and-mortar, while online sports wagering might arrive later, and via mobile betting first. We will discuss the opportunity that lies in online sports wagering and talk about overcoming challenges of its roll-out, including the Wire Act, but always with the understanding of the key prerogatives of the US operators for whom their land-based presence is critical. Sports betting will be thus talked about as part of a wider interactive experience.

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