ICE London concluded last month by smashing previous records, but also coming up against controversy. It started at the ICE Vox conference the day before the show opened when UK Gambling Commission Chairwoman Sarah Harrison (l.) said she was appalled at the treatment of women on the exhibit floor, and in the industry overall. She complained about the lack of diversity in the industry, highlighted by the many scantily clad women on the show floor.
“I felt that I had missed an opportunity at last year’s ICE,” said Harrison in a keynote address, “an opportunity to highlight and challenge what is a significant stain on this industry’s reputation. This is an industry where we have a number of talented, powerful and successful women. Indeed, a woman from the gambling industry is Britain’s highest-paid boss—not highest paid female CEO but highest paid CEO. Yet from walking around the exhibition, you wouldn’t know this. Instead, you saw men representing their companies wearing expensive tailored suits while their female colleagues were expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits. I say, bring this to an end now! It is far from reflective of the modern society and economy of which this industry is a part. And to go further, any future participation by the Gambling Commission in events like this will depend on there being change.”
Kate Chambers, managing director of Clarion Gaming, said ICE London would attempt to raise standards on the show floor, specifically with regards to the representation of women in line with its commitment to diversity.
“Our campaign to encourage respectful representation of women began over a year ago, prior to the 2017 edition of ICE,” she said. “The majority of the senior team at Clarion Gaming is female, and our strategy has been to drive a cultural change, which hopefully has a degree of permanency rather than a proscriptive change.
“While I think we have achieved some success adopting this strategy, moving forward we will be taking a greater degree of control over this important issue and updating our position in partnership with our stakeholders.”
Otherwise, Chambers cited the record-breaking 2018 edition of ICE, which occupied 36 of the 44 halls at the ExCeL Centre.
“The show floor provided a global representation of the industry, with 589 exhibitors from 65 countries producing games for every jurisdiction and every gaming vertical. In terms of the attendance figures, our registration company undertakes a robust interrogation of the data prior to submitting the number of unique visitors for independent audit. In the week prior to ICE London, the pre-registration figures were 4 percent up and our initial attendance figures are showing a similar uplift, which would be the seventh consecutive year of growth.”