The scope of ICE London’s networking and learning possibilities has been championed by Per Jaldung, Chairman of the European Casino Association (ECA), ahead of the event’s 2019 edition taking place at London’s ExCeL Centre from 5 - 7 February. The association, which represents the interests of 900 casinos and over 70,000 employees in 28 member countries across Europe, recently endorsed the show’s organiser’s Code of Conduct which sets out the standards that exhibitors and individuals are required to uphold at all Clarion Gaming events and covers gender representation and dress codes for stand staff. Speaking ahead of this year’s edition, which will be the biggest on record, with net floor space growing from the 2018 figure of 43,500sqm to 45,500sqm, an increase of just under 5 percent, Jaldung discussed the growing importance of technology to the casino industry, the challenges facing the land-based sectors, and why conversations had at ICE are key to gaming’s future…
What do you anticipate to be the main focus at ICE London 2019 in terms of new technologies and new products?
ICE London is the annual centre-piece for our industry as it offers the chance to find those new products and technologies that are truly innovative and make a real difference to our industry. I am, for example, particularly interested in the practical application of the new technologies that we have heard much about over the past years, such as Virtual Reality, cashless payment solutions and Artificial Intelligence.
A trend we are seeing in the land-based casino sector is the growing role of non-gaming offers to provide a wide spectrum of entertainment offers to our customers, both current and future. There is a lot of potential in this area and I really look forward to discussing these and other interesting points with industry leaders gathering for the International Casino Conference that we are jointly organising with Clarion Gaming on Monday, 4 February.
Image: Per Jaldung, Chairman of the European Casino Association
In terms of jurisdictions, where do you see the big growth opportunities for the gambling industry in 2019 and what are the implications for the industry?
There are of course global hotspots like Japan, Brazil and other countries whereas in Europe it is a whole different story. The growth opportunities for the land-based casino industry is in the development of entertainment related-services and to look into expanding to the online gaming side of the business as more and more European countries are reconsidering their online licensing schemes to tackle those offers currently operating illegally in the respective countries. Licensed land-based casinos certainly consider this as a growth opportunity.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges facing your sector of the industry over the next 12-months?
A key point that the gambling industry in Europe has to tackle is that of possible advertising restrictions, which are on the political agenda or even already up and coming in some countries. A responsible approach to marketing and provision of gambling services is and should be within the genes of the licensed land-based casino industry and there needs to be a real understanding of this issue across the industry. If licensed casinos cannot advertise, they are even more at a competitive disadvantage to the illegal offers. The public has to know that there is a legal, controlled and compliant gaming product out there – advertising is one of the most important instruments to tackle illegal offers.
Advertising, if done responsibly, is in fact a crucial tool within national gambling regulation as it very effectively supports the channelling of demand for gambling services to licensed offers. Without this tool, it is only illegal offers that will benefit as they continue to provide their services and advertise for them if the national gambling regulator does not take strong and concerted action. This will only exacerbate the problem as illegal gambling providers ignore national measures aim at promoting responsible gambling.
What genius ideas do you hope to see at ICE London?
Besides the exciting products and technologies that are the heart of ICE London and surely will astound with their genius, I am very interested to hear from industry leaders. The genius of ICE London is for me very much connected to the people attending and the conversations this allows for. The show brings together all relevant actors from regulators to politicians, academia and global thought leaders. This environment lends itself very well for exchange, long-term visions and concrete collaboration both at the International Casino Conference, ICE VOX and on the show floor.
In 2018, a record 33,536 visitors from 153 jurisdictions made the journey to ICE London, an 11 percent increase on the 2017 figure and a landmark which constituted the brand’s seventh consecutive year of growth. The 2019 edition of ICE London has been confirmed as the biggest on record, comprising 45,500 sqm of net floor space.
To experience the spirit of genius at ICE London 2019 (5-7 February, ExCeL London, UK), visit: icelondon.uk.com