ICE Totally Gaming 2015 has officially kicked off at the ExCeL conference center in London. This is the biggest event of the year in Europe for the global gaming industry with thousands of delegates, hundreds of booths and representing over sixty countries from around the world.
The popularity of this conference continues to grow every year and you could see this fact for yourself, if you arrived between the hours of 10am and 12pm this morning. The line to get inside of the expo was wrapped around the front entrance, everyone anxious to get inside into the warmth and excitement of ICE.
Taking a walk through the expo hall on the first day is always a trip, especially for the first time attendees. Novomatic has secured a gigantic booth space as always, Microgaming has created a green screen set where delegates can get their picture taken and receive a print out of themselves sitting on the Game of Thrones “iron throne”, there are topless, body painted women, all sorts of models in cute little outfits, slot machines, slot machines and more slot machines and just about anything else to tickle the gambling senses.
Back by popular demand this year was the Bitcoin and Crypto Currencies Seminar, a day of sessions dedicated to crypto currencies and opportunities in gaming. The value of Bitcoin has plummeted over the past few months, leaving some gaming operators hesitant to get involved at this stage. Sonny Singh of BitPay told CalvinAyre.com the dip in Bitcoin value has been both good and bad for the industry. Bad because its scaring people and potential businesses away and good because people are now buying and trading more Bitcoin than ever.
Regardless of Bitcoin’s “value”, events educating more and more gaming professionals on the technology behind and opportunities within Bitcoin and other crypto currencies will help push the marriage of these two industries forward.
One of the booths that stood out from the rest was OpenBet’s, likely because they were showing footage from the Super Bowl on one of their massive flat screen TVs. Well that and the booth was set up as an American bar with flat screens all over the walls and an actual bar in the center, a visual representation of OpenBet’s new optimised omni-channel gaming solutions. The software provider hired a rickshaw to compliment the booth and help send delegates the message that OpenBet customers can access their accounts anytime, anywhere…even from one London’s famous rickshaws.
The Tribal Gaming Seminar took place today as well, a series of sessions organized by Pechanga.net’s Victor Rocha. The “How to do business in Indian Country” session featured high profile panelists David Baazov of Amaya/Rational Group, James Maida of GLI, Mario Galea and Rocha as the moderator.
“Some of the best run operations in the world are tribal casinos”, Baazov said. He explained since his acquisitions of Cadillac Jack and PokerStars he is more involved with Indian country now and “its more relationship driven than transactionally driven”. He advised any companies interested in partnering with tribes to:
1)respect tribal sovereignty and
2)get an understanding of their heritage by going to physically visit them on their land
Maida echoed Baazov’s comments and added his organization visits every tribe they work with once a quarter, on tribal land. He also said to think of each tribe as their own government as opposed to talking in terms of what states their tribal land resides within. “Think government to government, not state to state”, he said.
All panelists agreed the biggest opportunity in tribal land is with the European suppliers. “The European suppliers are not represented on tribal floors”, said Maida. Galea agreed and added if a supplier want to introduce a new game into the market, its better to go to the tribes first rather than work with Las Vegas or Atlantic City casinos. He explained tribes have their own regulators who are top notch, casinos that are run even better than Vegas casinos and going to tribal casinos first will provide a 100% stress test- “if [your product is] successful there, it will be successful anywhere”, he said.
“The 254 tribes have so much knowledge”, Galea said. Rocha added, “254 tribes mean 254 opportunities”.
Before finishing out the day, back on the expo floor, Net Ent put on a good show when they revealed their latest slot brand innovation, Guns ‘N Roses. To celebrate the news, Per Eriksson and his team blasted GNR music at their stand, handed out champagne and gave out iPhone 5 cases and CD’s of GNR’s greatest hits.