Novomatic, the biggest ICE London exhibitor, has pulled out of the giant gambling conference citing COVID-19 concerns, “logistical challenges” and the “unfavourable and unavoidable alternative date”.
The announcement late on Thursday (January 27) means the two biggest exhibitors, Austria’s Novomatic and Germany’s Gauselmann, have withdrawn from the rescheduled event.
Novomatic cited a “multitude” of reasons, including the fact that other major exhibitors and participants have cancelled, which mean “participating in the show is no longer viable”.
“Novomatic considers the health of its employees as well as customers and partners a top priority and has therefore decided to take this unfortunate but measured and considered step,” the company said in a statement.
“ICE is a key trade show for the entire gaming industry and Novomatic hopes that the successful cooperation can be continued under more favourable conditions in 2023.”
Novomatic’s reasons echo Gauselmann’s, with the addition of “numerous cancellations by major international show exhibitors”.
Gauselmann’s UK-based Merkur unit cited the pandemic, proximity to Easter and worries that Brexit red tape would cause havoc with shipments.
Gambling giant Novomatic makes slot machines, runs arcades, offers payments systems and online sports betting and gaming services.
Its splashy ICE exhibits feature a VIP lounge and a network of meeting rooms, with staff pouring beer, cooking sausages and handing out Mozartkugeln, a popular Austrian chocolate.
The event, coupled with ICE VOX and iGB Affiliate London, is to run April 11-14 at the ExCel centre in London. The shows were postponed from their original February date due to the Omicron COVID-19 wave in the UK.
A spokesman for the trade show did not return emailed requests for comment.
A press release released this week said the iGB Affiliate London conference will be 28 percent larger than 2020 in terms of floor space, with 159 exhibitors to 150 that year.
Separately, in the Philippines, organisers of the ASEAN Gaming Summit in Manila have again postponed the event, this time from March to July, amid accelerating Omicron transmission.
The Asia Gaming Brief-organised event has not been held since 2019 because of the pandemic and regional travel restrictions.
The summit, which covers land-based and online segments, is perhaps the most important conferencing and networking event in the region, given escalating hostility from the Macau government toward online gambling at G2E Asia and the MGS forum.