Only one adjective, "More", was chosen this year as the subject for one of the largest global events for the gaming sector; a simple English word to characterize the latest London edition of the Ice Expo event, which aims to leave its mark by offering more. Andy Ventris, Ice event director, tells us about it, explaining that behind an abstract adjective in itself, there are concrete elements: “More connections, more insight, more inspiration and as a consequence more business opportunities. This is what visitors will experience at this Ice London edition."
In recent months you have anticipated that there will also be many interesting new features, what is it?
“Yes, let's start by saying that between Ice and its sister show iGB Affiliate all of the space available at ExCeL London has been sold. In addition to our circa 700 exhibitors we will also have a record number of sponsors, media and trade association partners. In particular, we have enhanced existing features such as the Esports Arena and the Consumer Protection Zone at the same time as introducing two completely new features which I am sure visitors will enjoy.
Fast Forward which is new for 2024 will provide a focal point where the gaming industry can discover, discuss and shape the future. It’s a place where the technology of tomorrow will be showcased to the people who are going to be bringing it to market. It’s a meeting place where those active in moving the industry into a positive future can connect with like-minded individuals. Fast Future is aimed at start-ups wanting to connect with potential investors, positive-disruptors who are bringing new ways of doing business and/or technologies to market and at organisations and individuals who want to introduce Diversity Equity and Inclusion undertakings to the workplace. Fast Forward is for thinkers, thought-leaders, doer’s, disruptors, creators, explorers, serial entrepreneurs and the visionaries who keep the industry moving at break-neck speed. In fact, in many ways, Fast Forward encapsulates what Ice is all about.
The second initiative aims to provide the opportunity to create more connections between businesses in the most interesting developing international industry: this is the Growth Markets Zone. Providing a focus for businesses targeting Latin America and Africa, the Growth Markets Zone will provide a place for suppliers to meet and connect with international businesses. We always work in partnership with our stakeholders to deliver initiatives which will help them to meet their business objectives and the Growth Markets Zone will serve as the reference point for those interested in the significant business opportunities which exist in LatAm and Africa. I think Ice 2024 will leave the mark, will go down in history, an ‘I was there ‘event.”
This will be the last edition to take place in London. Have you planned any special events dedicated to the city?
“All Ice 2024 will be a poigning occasion for many of our exhibitors who will be saying their own farewell to London, but on Tuesday 6th February we have organised a special farewell party for Ice London and iGb Affiliate London, which will host 5,000 Vip guests and will feature several internationally recognized music artists. It’s a ticketed event and will be the only official party in town”.
Going back to what Ice offers, the Ice Vox platform has been increasingly appreciated, since its birth in 2017. What do you think is the main strong point of its format?
“The Ice Vox programme comprises three high profile conferences - the World Regulatory Briefing (Wrb) the International Casino Conference (Icc) and the Esports Betting Conference which is in addition to four deep-dive workshops entitled Safer Gaming, Entering New Markets, the iGaming Customer Journey and Innovating Lotteries. In total it features expert insights from more than 150 thought leaders, policy-makers, industry commentators, trade body Ceos and politicians which is more than ever before. However, it’s not just the number of thought leaders that we have brought together that’s unprecedented it’s also the standing and status of the Ice Vox speakers which reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of international gaming. I believe that Ice Vox is the most influential event of its type in world gaming which is due to the topicality of content and the calibre of speakers. Not by chance it was described by award winning former Financial Times journalist Nadine Dereza as being the Davos of gaming (with a reference to the Swiss location that hosts the annual World Economic Forum, editor's note), a description which I think is totally appropriate”.
Casino and games is still the largest area of interest within Ice. But looking at the evolution of recent years, do you have any data that indicates which sector has grown the most (in size or participation) compared to the others?
“A unique characteristic of Ice is the fact that it represents every gaming vertical across every global jurisdiction, paying attention to all of the technology advancement the industry has to offer. Ice 2024 will be a shopwindow for the very latest innovations delivering many thousands of ‘first to market’ exclusives. The growth of sports betting and online gaming is at the forefront of this, and the show will be packed with tech to support this growth. Our customers tell us that the traditional online/offline dichotomy is much less relevant following the emergence of omnichannel gaming impacting many land-based suppliers and operators”.
There will also be a large arena dedicated to esports. How much has this new sector grown within Ice since its creation?
“I am proud to say that Ice is widely regarded as having led the way in terms of introducing Esports to the international gaming and betting community. The Esports Arena, which is one of the most popular features on the show floor, is all about delivering authenticity and using the in-person experience to bring the business-building opportunities delivered by Esports. Our theme for 2024 is F1: we will have two professional racers competing head-to-head to demonstrate the dynamic world of Esports racing. Attendees will also be able to immerse themselves in Vr and haptic feedback racing, compete on four connected simulated rigs and participate in a Pit Stop Challenge. Tehn ,delegates will be able to participate in the Esports Betting Conference (Ebc), on 8 February at the Icc Capital Suite, part of ExCeL London. The conference, which is being supported by headline sponsor Data.Bet, comprises a blend of issues and topics including insights on the status of Esports in the Americas, data integrity and how to maximise its value as well as an exclusive session delivered by Rivalry which will unpack market leading practices for engaging with Gen Z. The immense potential which exists at the crossroads of esports and betting will be higlighted, puttin industry professionals wishing to understand the dynamics driving this phenomenon in pole position by drawing on the expert insights of pioneer brands”.
A question that some may already be asking themselves: far from London, will Ice continue to be what it has always been?
“The reason why so many international industry professionals want to be part of Ice/iGB Affiliate is down to the quality and the calibre of our exhibitors. When visitors attend Ice they know that they will see and have access to the very best gaming brands and the leading industry innovators found anywhere in the world. Now we are primed for “More”, for an event that meets the needs of all our customers, in every vertical and in every gaming jurisdiction, but we are already, of course, for what will be a new era for gaming, from 2025 in a new host city. The motivation for the relocation came from our exhibitors and the process for selecting Barcelona was overseen by an independent specialist agency. The industry didn’t decide to move away from London so much as decide that Barcelona offered a unique set of opportunities. I believe the relationship between city and event brand is vital and Ice Barcelona 2025 will be the catalyst for the global industry to unite and move collectively towards even greater opportunities”.