The ICE Totally Gaming Expo in 2016 was a revelation: bigger, bolder and more exciting than previously.

Located at the Excel Centre, the expo is no longer constrained by size, as it was in the previous location at Earls Court. No other trade show serving the gambling industry is as big or receives more exhibitors or visitors.

The UK now dominates the global gambling industry in terms of competition, product and expertise.

The great thing for me about ICE is the international mix of exhibitors. Companies from the USA, Israel, Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Western Europe are all there. ICE is where the gambling world comes to showcase its product.

There are good reasons for this:
• Accessibility through London’s five airports with pricing of flights to match all pockets.
• The UK was the first to create an open competitive market in gambling for operators. Product innovation and management know-how has grown through competition.
• The market for sports is often formed in the UK because of the sports offering
• London (Silicon Roundabout) and Cambridge (Silicon Fen) are centres of technical innovation.

The UK is good at gambling. This should come as no surprise because the British have always been a nation of traders, from the days of the East India Company to now, where 35% of all foreign exchange goes through London. So it comes naturally to be able to form markets in betting, and have the advantage of GMT which enables trades between East and West in the same day.

But do UK politicians like the fact that the UK is good at running gambling businesses? I imagine not. They would rather we all did something else. If a poll were taken in the House of Commons amongst Members of Parliament on the question of whether the British gamble too much the response would be an overwhelming majority for “yes”.
Herein lays the danger. Politicians seem to be blindsided by the jobs, investment and wealth creation of the gambling industry, out of prejudice as much as anything. But if the majority think we are gambling too much then future legislation for the UK is not going to be in favour of the industry.

I wonder how many Members of Parliament actually visited ICE?

Perhaps Clarion should extend a VIP invitation to all MPs next year.

by Warwick Bartlett