iGB Diary: Roll up for the ICE weekly!

7 February 2014

Blue Jersey
Of course, the real news generally either takes place when speaking to good sources at the show or catching them later at parties after they’ve consumed large amounts of canapés and cocktails. One rumour doing the rounds is that after just a few months of operations and around £7m spent in marketing and set-up costs, a UK operator that has partnered with a large US casino group in New Jersey is allegedly preparing to pull out of only the third American state to regulate igaming. This has yet to be verified but if it transpires it could not only dent the operator's share price (never good with the City and markets) but also its chances of returning to the US, should they choose to. We’ll keep an eye on things but it would be a big retreat if it did happen.

Strip these
Company parties are always a highlight at ICE and this year was no exception, Skrill taking over the Paramount and enjoying can-can dancers, Intralot spending large amounts of euros on an equally luxurious venue and live dealer provider Evolution Gaming choosing a ski-theme for their soirée to presumably coincide with the Sochi Winter Olympics. One very large multi-product supplier, however pushed the boat out (delete as appropriate: bus, Porsche, Lamborghini, canoe...), this time around. Guests were treated to free drinks in an uber-trendy nightspot with several guests telling the Diary that there were “more models than revellers” and another claiming to have counted 300 (he might have got carried away there). But in finest business tradition, VIPs were said to have enjoyed some extra special treatment from scantily-clad models – for many a good enough reason to sign on the dotted line there and then.

So much for social
One theme that surfaced at ICE, actually it was conspicuous by its absence, was social gaming. For the last two-three years the industry has been obsessed with social and how real money brands can tap into the success many social studios have had ever since Zynga emerged in 2007. But with Zynga in trouble, laying off 15% of its staff and shifting its focus to video games and mobile with the enormous acquisition of NaturalMotion for US$527m, and only one or two social success stories in the bag, it seems the two sides of gaming and gambling just aren’t meant for each other in the long-term.