2018 London ICE Gaming Conference Summary

2018 London ICE GamingI have to say that  this year’s  2018 ICE gaming/gambling conference held at the ExCel center in East London  was the best of the ICE conferences in recent years. The shear size of the show in terms of exhibitors, traffic and interaction was excellent. The special presentations provided in the seminars were educational facilitating good interaction between presenters and the audience. The  degree of online gambling representation was no doubt the  most improved aspect of the ICE experience.

Exhibitor Vendor Show Room Floor – The number of vendors and  the opulence  of their booths represented on the show room floor was impressive with two extremely large vendor spaces providing for full exposure to Euro gaming. The vendors where large and small representing many of the European countries engaging in both land based and online gambling.

Online Gaming – As opposed to many other places on the planet where online gambling is illegal many countries in the EU have embraced online gambling creating formal regulated processes for this sector. This has resulted in a booming online gambling market in the Euro Zone. In many cases the online business models rival land based operations. This phenomena is unique to Western Europe as most regions outside of Europe have not embraced this form of wagering as a legal activity. This appears odd to many due to the obvious transition in the world from terrestrial gaming to online gaming. Europe has acknowledged this trend by creating a well regulated online gaming environment supported by government agencies. Essentially, Europe has created an “economy” around this activity that benefits Europeans from a financial and player protection perspective.

Its All About Mobile Or Is It? Although most of the vendors are building games on the Android or Apple platforms (Microsoft was also mentioned in  a mobile context?) a number of game publishers indicated that the desktop is far from a dead platform.  In particular, poker and sportsbook were  mentioned in terms of desktop usage during game play. Essentially, any game that requires, encourages or enhances game play by having a number of windows open at one time works better in a desk top environment.

Land Based Casino Activity – North American has historically been perceived as the big dog in the yard when it comes to large and ostentatious  land based casinos. However, the recent Euro ICE conference begins to questions that notion. Granted, Vegas is still something of a phenomena. However, it is clear from ICE that Europe has taken  a very serious approach to build and design casinos that appeal to a larger audience. This was demonstrated by the number of slot machine companies as well a  casino businesses addressing the outfitting of these land based venues.

Big Data, Artificial  Intelligence, Machine Learning And Player Profiling – Game engagement and especially online gambling generates a lot of data.  However, making sense of this data for the purpose of retaining players, increasing revenue per player and acquiring new players has  been challenging using traditional reporting tools  and  linear data  analysis.  Data scientists are now using Artificial Intelligence /Machine Learning  techniques to improve the mining of rich game data generated from player activity.

These presentation brought back memories for me having spend   two  years at the AI Lab at  the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology MIT working with Patrick Winston and  Randal Davis and being exposed to Marvin Minsky’s work   at the beginning of the AI craze.  This investigation resulted in a spin off company called AI Squared started by myself and the other team members working on the project. Out task was to decipher machine data created by electronic control modules in cars, large lorries/trucks, aircraft and medical equipment for the purpose of determining how to detect and address failure in these domains.   Essentially,  not a dissimilar problem from determining what players are doing and why based on their game play data.

Social Games/Social Casino  Meet Real Money Gambling – Many traditional land based and online gambling business  have either launched or are launching “social casino games” in addition to their current “real” money gambling content. This trend has been going on for some time with completely  separate businesses and business models being created to address the  free to play(virtual currency) casino  game model. Social game business leaders were clearly on the exhibit floor and in the seminars. This is an area that should be investigated more closely by ICE organizers.