ICE: Bigger & Better Than Ever By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports February 8, 2018 at 3:30 pm ICE London, held at ExCeL in the east of the capital was larger and arguably more successful than ever this year, covering a staggering 43,500 square metres this year – more than twice its size back in 2012 – with 30,000 visitors in attendance across its three days, regulators from 65 jurisdictions present, and an all-flying, all-dancing, bewildering array of presentations and amusements for all. Over 300 product launches took place across the convention, and even the maps of the venue were multiple, fold-out and at times mystifying in their scale. Highlights of the event included multiple stalls offering virtual reality experiences, numerous demonstration slots, table games and lotteries and prize wheels offering actual prizes, and the bars and restaurants operated by the ExCeL building -while they may have done a brisk enough trade – had some stiff competition from the dozens of stalls running free bars, cocktail happy hours, and some which were handing out chocolates and hotdogs to visitors. Some of the hottest topics of the gambling world today were well represented: the buzzword of the year, of course, being crypto, there were indeed almost a score of stalls devoted exclusively to Crypto projects, including the CasinoCoin Foundation, UltraPlay and FunFair Technologies. Virtual reality abounded, as well, including an amazing piece by JOIN featuring a virtual reality slot masquerading as a zombie shooter (which we’ll feature a full review of elsewhere). There was even a virtual race car – at the booth of a payment operator who was not even offering any actual games products – which you could strap yourself into, simply to emphasise speed of payments, one assumes. One emergent area which seemed underrepresented at the convention, at least to this reporter, was skill gaming. Konami, with a long history of arcade gaming, was present, but were mainly featuring their latest slots. There were two operators using Skill in their actual names, SkillOnNet and SkilRock Technologies, but, surprisingly, neither featured any actual innovative skill-based gaming other than a smattering of traditional skill games such as poker. Beautiful women abounded, many serving drinks or working in hospitality – as well as numerous managers – but the event did receive some negative publicity for gender disparity and for the sartorial choices made by some operators, as we’ll cover in a full piece elsewhere. Overall the event seemed a resounding success, and anyone visiting would be hard-pressed to think the gambling industry is anything other than flourishing. Wandering the maze of gaming products on display for three days straight was certainly highly entertaining and informative, if also surreal and, inevitably, both exhilarating and exhausting!