Tuesday, 6th of February 2018 – 6:05 am.
Thanks to my brother, who took me to the airport one more time, I was able to catch this super early Ryanair flight from Bergamo (close to Milan, Italy) to London (UK) this morning at around 6am, which meant leaving my place at 4:45am!
You might ask why I’m doing this, and the answer is pretty simple ICE Totally Gaming at Excel London starts today!
For those of you who don’t know what ICE is, it is basically the biggest fair in the gaming business: sports betting platforms, casino games software and hardware, Poker networks, cryptocurrency sports betting: everyone shows up here at Excel London to show their new cool stuff if they exhibit, or to check the new cool things out and network if they just attend the event as a visitor.
If I counted it correctly, this is my third time at ICE. Despite being in the gambling business for more than 15 years, I only recently got into this kind of things, and I think I have attended 3 of the last five.
Make sure you have a look at their website and, if you live in London, you are still in time to register, IT’S FREE! Or try to go next year!
ICE Totally gaming 2018 – Day 1
This Crypto-Factor thing is everywhere! Everywhere! We, at BetzCenter like cryptocurrencies, we own some and can’t wait to see how they will develop and change in the near future, but we are also pretty sick of reading about cryptocurrencies everywhere.
Even if I don’t really like printed stuff too much, I liked this idea of having a dedicated newspaper for the event though. It’s just a few pages that introduce the fair and some of the companies that will be showing their products at the event.
I want to start saying one thing: as interested as I am in this business, I only focus on sports betting. I am generally not really interested in casino games, slot machines, virtual games and the rest. I used to play poker a lot back in the days (maybe 10 years ago). And when I say a lot, I really mean it, almost full time I would say. But now, I only play poker for fun from time to time and I really prefer going to casinos and play at live tables compared to playing online. One of my favorite poker rooms is here in London inside Hippodrome casino, and it’s the Poker Stars Room. It’s a nice place, good atmosphere and a lot of fun, but let’s go back to ICE.
I could not spend too much time at the event today as I had other obligations, but I managed to stay there for a good 4 hours and here is what I have noticed:
Despite the fact that I do not like casino games and slot machines there is no real way to stay away from them at ICE. Some of the biggest stands belong to companies that sell those products and it’s fine, but, since I did not have too much time, I did not pay too much attention to those.
The good thing is that sport betting and gaming stands are not divided into different sections, but are mixed, which I find cool as it gives us the chance to take a nice walk up and down the venue to get a broad idea of how things work, while we can decide to only stop at the stands that capture our attention. And, in my case, they were many.
This is the paper guide that was available to collect at the entrance: it is a massive 244-page book that introduces all the companies that are present here in London and provides us with a map of the event. It’s a pretty big venue, so a map is needed to get around and find what you are looking for. The guide includes all the possible information on seminars, talks and events that surround the main one.
I have tried to attend a few of the talks, and especially two that really interested me and these were the only delusion of this first day. One of these was actually the reason why I bought such an early flight to get to the venue in time: “Online Gaming Masterclass – taster session”. The other one was called “Affiliate Management Academy – taster session”. These were just a 45-minute long talk (each) on a couple of courses that the organizers offer throughout the year (I think in Malta), but both were so boring that I left after 10-15 minutes. Even if I am really interested in the two subjects, especially in affiliate marketing, the speakers did not provide any value and did not make me think that the courses would be interesting. Just my personal opinion, but there is a lot of room for improvement here if they want to get more people to buy their courses.
Back to the good things, I can tell that I really enjoyed my first day: the atmosphere is not formal at all, which is a very good thing. As far as I saw, each stand is free to set up whatever they want to get the attendees’ attention: I saw a couple of soccer freestylers, an African dancing crew and a Japanese group of people dressed in traditional costumes (I did not really understand this one). There are free drinks, free snacks, free slot machine spins, free bets to be placed. Lot of games to play, lots of nice and crazy gadgets to collect and loads of booth babes (which to be honest I find such an outdated practice). Don’t get me wrong, the girls are very cute and professional, but don’t really know anything about the business; so what am I supposed to do? Just take a picture with them?
Give me that budget that you are spending on Booth Babes (or actually any kind of budget) and I will provide your company with a much better and lead-generating idea, 100% guaranteed!
Just to wrap things up for the first day, I can tell you that I have seen some interesting things and especially some interesting products. Being focused on the sports betting part of the fair, I have seen a countless number of gambling service providers, in particular many, many companies that offer complete platforms for all of your online gambling needs! I have noted down the most interesting ones and I hope I can have a word with all of them tomorrow as I will be back to the fair (with friends) so that I will be able to write about them.
Time to go now, I still have to read 240 of that 244-page guide by tomorrow and the odds on me to be able to do that are currently set at 100/1. No chance pretty much!
Highlight of the day
I have to thank Sagaming for my personal highlight of the first day: they had a silly but nice free game at their stand where you are asked to catch a little sponge ball inside a glass box. Depending on the color of the ball that you catch, you get a prize and I won a very nice travel adaptor that work with all the different plugs of the world, both input and output! Very cool prize!
ICE Totally gaming 2018 – Day 2
Day two was good, I had much more time and I was able to stop at all the stands that I wanted to see.
Some of them were pretty interesting, for example this Tipbet stand!
Look at those screens, and that odds feed… That odds feed looks so beautiful!
What I am looking for at the moment for BetzCenter.com is a good odds feed service that can provide us with odds for all the sports that we cover: NBA, Soccer, NFL, Tennis and soon many more! We have a few things in mind that we want to implement on BetzCenter.com and a service that could give us the odds is so much needed right now! Also historical odds is something that we really want to get our hands on. I saw a few stand of companies that do exactly what we are looking for and I have to admit that they all have crazy good graphics! On a more odds.specific note though, some of them were pretty disappointing: a couple did not have long-enough data history for example (3/4 years only).
I think that at TXODDS they have a good product but their stand sucked and was not attractive at all! I tried to stop there anyway but they weren’t as welcoming as other companies. They told me that their data goes back to 20 years or so, which is incredibly good! I will have a look at their website for sure.
The afternoon (which I skipped on day one) is much more fun! There is loud music, free drinks and snacks everywhere.
I don’t know if it was the drinks, or the fact that I was with friends this time but I really enjoyed the second day. I had fun playing the nice little games that the companies have at their stands: remote controlled mini racing cars, free bets machines, spin wheels and more.
On the business side, I talked to many people representing companies that offer complete solutions for bookmakers. And when I say complete solution I really mean complete, odds feed, live odds, cool web interface and great user experience and live scores! Those a real packages! If you have enough money you can pretty much start a bookmaker from the comfort of your bed.
It seems to me that everyone is interested in sports betting right now. That would not surprise me, but the number of services out there is enormous! Even being in the business for more than 10 years I only knew maybe half of them!
I have met companies from Armenia, from Ukraine, from Lithuania and of course from Cyprus and Malta! all of them have their own platform and it would be extremely difficult to just pick one!
Networking is very easy at ICE Gaming. People are very friendly and the organizers have done everything they needed to do in order to make things smoother for attendees and operators. As usual, I found Pentasia’s Stand pretty interesting: they are leaders in the world of igaming recruitment and I discovered that they have an American office which sounds extremely interesting as it deals with US-based job!
Highlight of the day
Playing this game was fun, it a nice simple game were you control mini racing cars that reminded me of my childhood and I think PaySafe nailed it in getting people’s attention trough this game at their stand!