December 12, 2019

From Ampersand Las Vegas to ICE North America 2020

Daniel Tyler, ICE North America Producer
From Ampersand Las Vegas to ICE North America 2020

Earlier this year in October, 70 leading influencers met in Las Vegas to brainstorm the key challenges and opportunities facing the US gaming industry, part of the Ampersand offering by Clarion Gaming.

Ampersand is a free-to-join research and knowledge sharing initiative for the global gaming industry that is able to take part in surveys and reports, receptions, lounges and, of course, assemblies with over 3000 members. Exclusive for Ampersand members and key stakeholders, the free-to-attend live assemblies use an innovative Open Space format to facilitate free-flowing, honest and open discussions around the industry’s most burning questions and themes – proposed by attendees on the day.

As we are doing more in-depth research to build on the work of the Ampersand Assembly, here are some of the recurrent themes that came up in October and that will definitely make the ICE North America agenda at Clarions 2020 event in the Big Easy.

Some of the key themes discussed at the event:

  • Sports betting, unsurprisingly, leads the way.

By some margin, Sports Betting was the go to theme at the event this year with attendees highlighting a range of regulatory, operational and strategic topics. These included, expectations for the up-coming market ‘shakeout’; the potential of peer to peer and in-stadia betting; the future of regulation, including the looming issue of the Wire Act; the continuing battle with the black market; and the crucial issue of understanding the typical US sports bettor and what marketing, products and brands appeal to them.

As sports betting continues to spread across the US, with varying regulatory models creating unique markets across the country, sports betting looks set to be a key driver for US gaming for the foreseeable future. With legislative sessions expected to re-open in the New Year, mega media brands set to continue their expansion into the space and potential signs of legislative movement in highly anticipated states, most notably California thanks to tribal collaboration, prospective attendees can expect educational content from those at the forefront of the sports betting boom.

With overwhelming expectations that the market will look very different in 5 years’ time than it does today, ICE North America will provide crucial industry intelligence as companies jostle for market share and access.

  • Changing player and customer habits

Two particularly interesting discussions held centred on the overriding theme of changing player habits across the breadth of the US gaming industry. Specifically, one focused on skill-based games compared to traditional casino floor offerings while the other, one of the best attended discussions of the day, looked at content creation for players with 0.1 second attention spans.

These involved debate about what skill-based gaming actually looks like, how products can be made more interactive whilst maintaining a gambling element, and how new offerings could look to incorporate social media elements.

But, fundamentally, these two discussions proved that player habits, particularly amongst the ever elusive millennial demographic, are changing and the industry needs to take note.

The casino floor is a crucial cog in US gaming reflecting a large portion of the industry and, as such, land-based casino gaming will be a key theme covered at ICE North America. With traditional three-wheel stepper slots, a staple of the land based casino, making somewhat of a comeback in the face of competition from progressive jackpot products and video slots, there is plenty to discuss when it comes to casino games, not to mention igaming.

However, away from the casino floor, and incorporating our new hospitality technology element that will be featured at the May event, ICE North America will take an in-depth look at the growing importance being placed on non-gaming revenue by land-based casinos.

This is just one way that the industry is looking to broaden its offerings and ICE North America will highlight how innovative technology can deliver superior entertainment, create an elevated guest experience and achieve operational efficiency while operators maximize their ROI.

  • Marketing and responsible gaming

With an influx of gambling content and advertising following close on the heels of sports betting legislation, it is unsurprising and reassuring to see that the industry is paying attention to concerns surrounding excessive advertising and responsible gambling (RG).

With no shortages of lessons to be learnt from the UK and other major markets in mainland Europe, as well as past experiences closer to home such as the barrage of daily fantasy sports advertising seen in 2015, participants seemed intent on taking the issue of marketing and RG seriously.

Discussions looked at player and brand loyalty, product excellence rather than bonus war, effective not excessive content marketing and concerns surrounding the addictiveness of in-play betting.

This year, ICE North America will bring RG to the forefront of the show. With a dedicated track in the conference agenda, content will explore successful case studies and RG models, how companies are able to best communicate themselves as good corporate citizens, the importance of diversity and inclusion as part of the conversation and, crucially, how RG is the 1st pillar of sustainability with direct bottom line benefits for individual companies and the industry at large.

In addition, ICE North America will host a Responsible Gambling Zone, developed in cooperation with the local regulator and hosting various charities and research groups to advance the strive to build a sustainable industry that offers a safe product and long-term growth.

With the ICE brand having made its mark in North America in 2019, May 2020 will see North America’s gaming technology marketplace return, this time to New Orleans. Future thinking and innovation will be at the forefront of the event with the conference and exhibition covering the breadth of the US gaming industry, including a new focus on brick & mortar operations, hospitality and e-sports. The show will provide the perfect opportunity for those looking to capitalise on the opportunities presented by one of the most exciting regions in the gaming industry and this year the conference will be FREE to attend!

I hope to see you there as we discuss issues at the heart of the evolving US gaming industry.

To register for ICE North America, please click here.

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