With one of the biggest international gaming conferences knocking on the door, The Big Betting Balagan (BBB) interviewed Alex Pratt from Clarion Gaming as to what people can expect from this year’s iteration of the ICE event.

“In many ways it will bring everything you remember about ICE – that feeling of coming together, the anticipation and then actually coming on site to see new products, but also people you haven’t seen in a long time, make new connections – all the usual stuff you’d expect,” said Pratt when talking to BBB hosts Lee Richardson and Dan Phillips.

He continued: “In some ways it will be different, pretty iGaming-heavy this year. A number of the bigger land-based exhibitors have delayed or pulled out of this year’s show. But in size and scale, it would be really interesting because we haven’t had a global international gaming show since the last ICE, which was almost two and a half years ago. It’s going to be as busy as it’s always been.”

Going over the attendance rates this year, the MD of Clarion Gaming expressed that exhibitor numbers might be down, but this certainly is not the case with visitors.

“We are seeing registration over and above what it would’ve been peaking three weeks out from the event in 2020,” Pratt said. “I suspect we will be marginally down on site versus the February 2020 show. Interestingly, you’re not seeing the lack of land-based exhibitors reflect in a lack of land-based visitors. In terms of demographics, not just at ICE but all the shows that Clarion is at, it tends to be more the decision makers that are coming to the show, and they tend to have a reason for coming.”

Moreover, judging from data available to ICE, Pratt explained that visitors can be placed into two main categories:

“If we look at the data, the vast majority of ICE people coming to ICE to source new products, to meet with existing suppliers, to understand innovation, all about discovery or buying basically. And then, there is a proportion of people that come for education, to keep ahead of trends.

“So, what we have to do is find a balance that allows them to do that without removing them from the floor for three days, because that’s not what they want, and it’s not what the event DNA is.”

Clarion’s Managing Director also explained what the educational aspect of this year’s ICE will look like:

“This year we’ve recreated the content around what we’re calling these ‘masterclasses’, they allow people to deep dive into three hours in a room where actually it isn’t just someone talking at you from a stage – it’s around tables, it’s workshops. 

“And the good thing about having those masterclasses is that we can see where there’s an interest or there isn’t an interest, so we can actually enlarge them, cut some out. A lot of the popular ones are around new markets like LatAm, around player acquisition and retention, operating online and offline. There’s plenty to be excited about and if the new format works, hopefully we can scale it for the event next year.”

Famous for its size, this year’s ICE conference is being held in London’s ExCeL centre, one of the biggest convention venues in the city. Host Lee Richardson noted that his personal best is a 17-mile marathon across an ICE event, to which Pratt replied:

“Because a number of the exhibitors aren’t having stands, but they are attending, it’s going to be interesting because people are going to have to find each other.”

Big Betting Balagan: Alex Pratt on what to expect from ICE 2022