London’s three-day International Gaming Expo (IGE) confirmed its reputation as the world’s most complete annual gaming showcase in January after welcoming a total of 18,415 visitors to Earls Court Exhibition Centre to check out the latest products and services from 425 exhibitors.
Held Jan. 26 to 28, IGE attracted exhibitors from 51 distinct jurisdictions occupying 215,800 square feet of total floor space with a record-breaking 108 firms from 37 nations making their debut appearances. The show also had its most international representation to date with organizer Clarion Gaming revealing that 68 percent of exhibitors came from outside of the U.K.
“We are delighted at having delivered the most complete gaming and amusements event in the world and one that has been met with such positive reviews from exhibitors and visitors representing all aspects of the international gaming, wagering and amusement sectors,” said Julian Graves, managing director for Clarion Gaming.
“At no other event in the world would you find representatives with such diverse backgrounds and from such a cross-section of countries. It’s remarkable that, despite the economic pressures, we have welcomed senior gaming professionals based in 120 sovereign territories from Albania to Australia, Mexico to Macau, Singapore to South Africa and United Arab Emirates to Uruguay and virtually every country in between.
“We have been told by our exhibitors that all of the relevant buying companies were represented at the show. The consensus is that 2010 has been a landmark edition in which IGE has matured into the complete gaming and wagering exhibition covering all imaginable forms of delivery in every global jurisdiction.”
The success enjoyed at IGE was all the more remarkable considering the presence, for the first time in its history, of a competing show in the shape of the European Amusement and Gaming Expo, organized by BACTA and held across town at ExCeL London.
Tony Coles, a gaming law partner with London-based specialist firm Jeffrey Green Russell and new president for the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL), was pleased with the turnout at IGE despite this new cross-town rivalry. “For IMGL, I think that IGE was more important although I understand that the BACTA show was also very well attended and successful. So, I think that there will probably be two shows in London for a while,” he commented.
“IMGL is a network of gaming lawyers and consultants, so we were there to talk to our clients and potential clients and we did this then because that is the week when people turn up in London. We had a very successful IMGL reception on the first day of the show and this created a sound basis on which people built for their work throughout the week.
“All of the IMGL members that I spoke with were very busy, in fact hectic, in London and it was very difficult to get time to see some of them and vice versa. So, I think that the show was a success despite the fact that this was the first time that we had two shows in London at the same time.”
In the face of this new competition, Clarion trumpeted the fact that an overwhelming majority of IGE exhibitors had already agreed to take part in the next year’s show at Earls Court, which will run from Jan. 25 to 27.
“The biggest testament to the success of this year’s show is the fact that 80 percent of the show floor in 2011 is already committed, providing a solid platform for further expansion and a sound base from which to launch even more new and exciting initiatives,” Graves said.
IGE was also streamlined with the incorporation of the co-located Amusement Trades Exhibition International (ATEI), the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) and, for the first time, The Betting Show. This restructure meant that visitors could turn up in one place to see the world’s most comprehensive and expansive business-to-business show harnessing the biggest names in international low-stake, soft and remote gaming alongside land-based casinos, betting, lotteries, bingo and amusements.
“IGE is, without doubt, the most important gaming industry event in Europe,” said Hermann Pamminger, corporate head of marketing for Casinos Austria International and press coordinator for industry representative European Casino Association (ECA). “This is confirmed by the many key satellite events now also held in London during IGE week such as the gaming awards and ECA’s International Casino Conference.”
The land-based casino sector was strongly represented at IGE with more than half of the exhibitors from this sector demonstrating new products, systems, services and innovative concepts. The line-up read like a who’s who of the sector with Novomatic-Austrian Gaming Industries, IGT-Europe, WMS Gaming, TCSJOHNHUXLEY, Atronic International, Amatic Industries, Apex Gaming, Aristocrat Technologies, Bally Technologies, Gold Club, Elektroncek, Konami Gaming, Gaming Partners International and Unidesa all taking floor space. In addition, WMS, Bally and Konami raised the stakes by expanding their presence from last year’s edition.
“Once again, IGE was Novomatic’s most important show of the year and it did not disappoint,” said Jens Halle, managing director for Austrian Gaming Industries. “Visitor numbers may, perhaps, have decreased by some degree but the internationalization of the show was clearly increased leading to significant interest and actual business from key markets such as Asia and South America plus a very impressive delegation of key industry figures from South Africa. Novomatic made, as always, a significant investment in IGE and we can judge that investment to have been worthwhile.”
One of the main components of IGE is networking and the ability for companies along with industry representatives and trade bodies to meet with members and other interested parties to discover their concerns in order to make informed decisions going forward.
“Every trade show is different and this year the Gaming Standards Association (GSA) was able to interact with key industry people providing us with more business intelligence to drive the standards development forward,” said Peter DeRaedt, president of GSA.
“We met with various regulators and operators and shared common ideas. It is as a result of our participation at events like this that we are able to continue to support our industry with more insight.
“What was particularly interesting was the huge interest in Internet gaming. We were continuously asked about GSA’s presence in this space and if we intend to develop a protocol. As a result, we are looking into forming an Internet research committee that will look into the subject to see if a common protocol would provide business value.”
“Casinos Austria International viewed its stand at IGE as a communication hub and we used our presence there to measure the pulse of the industry and reinforce our own impressions of current trends,” Pamminger said. “We also used the show to meet up with existing and potential business partners and catch up with industry journalists. We definitely achieved these aims. Our stand was specifically designed for these purposes and was busy throughout the entire show. Naturally, IGE is also an ideal event to check out the suppliers and see what they currently have on offer or under development.”
Perhaps lifted by the success of IGE, the industry is for the most part hopeful about the future despite the ongoing global financial crisis and believes that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
“I think that it was a positive show and everyone that I spoke with afterward had positive things to say about it and that it was better than last year’s show,” Coles said. “I think that it has set up the industry reasonably positively for the next 12 months although it is not boom time yet. I think that it was felt to be a good positive useful way of spending time and money.”
“The state of the industry was ‘cautiously optimistic,’ ” DeRaedt said. “There were signs that the world economy is starting to turn around, but more important to the gaming industry, there are a lot of governments that are looking for immediate funds. Many are allowing gaming or expanding gaming as a means to generate more revenue. This should create more opportunity for all sectors of our industry.”
“I think the overall feeling was one of quiet optimism,” Pamminger said. “In general, the gaming industry is doing well and I think it is fair to say that people have never before gambled as much as they do today. Of course, the whole industry is also in a period of transition with new technologies and gaming opportunities constantly appearing on the market. The speed of change is a challenge for regulators, but there are plenty of developments in the legislative arena as well.”