Espelkamp/London. Traditionally used as part of a birthday celebration those three simple words aptly summed up the overwhelming opinions of all those, exhibitors, guests and visitors, attending the 2023 ‘comeback’ edition of ICE in London. After a hybrid, almost totally dominated by iGaming and Sports Betting exhibits, ICE in April 2022, the show’s 2023 event concluded an almost three years hiatus and its return was a hugely significant highlight of the post-Covid gaming landscape. Merkur regards ICE as absolutely its ‘home event’ and so went all out to present its brand in its traditional spectacular style.
On what was the largest exhibitor booth in London ExCel’s north halls the laughing Merkur Sun shone proudly on top of a huge display that had been subtly redesigned in order to give improved access to visitors while also presenting the many subsidiary teams and the range of gaming omni solutions that they represented.
The run up to ICE had seen many exhibitors wishing that 2023 would prove to be ‘as good as ICE 2020’ but, in reality, from the first moment that ICE opened its doors on Day 1 it was immediately clear that this would prove to be a show that did not just ‘equal’ 2020 but which would go on to be bigger, better, brighter and statistically far in excess of its predecessor.
The post event statistics told the story. The 40,000 visitors at ExCel broke all previous records by a substantial margin and taking into account those visitors that attended the show on more than one day added up to a total of 79,000 unique visitations. 2023’s exhibitor numbers were also record breaking, 560 in all, representing more than 80 countries and filling all 41 halls of Excel to capacity.
Merkur’s omni channel presentation (covering everything from land-based casinos to street games, iGaming, cash handling, specific national teams and more) Merkur brought great expectations to its return to ICE and had gone to enormous lengths in having all of the brand’s newest innovations, in cabinets, game titles, multigames, Mystery and Linked Progressive Jackpots plus the theatre configuration Merkur Roulette and was proud to note a hugely successful ICE on all levels. Athanasios “Sakis” Isaakidis, Merkur Gaming Chief Executive, International noting that all three show days had been superbly attended and that the entire Merkur team had been extremely busy in terms of customer visits and enquiries, across all three show days.
Merkur’s ICE headline display covered both the International and German domestic markets by featuring the latest Linked Progressive Jackpot attractions Link Zone 2 now with enhanced software and a brand new range of four game titles, The legend of FuLu Chen, China Charms, Solar Link and the all new Five. Also new is the futuristic styled Zonic cabinet that has its own Zone on the ICE booth, featuring the Red Pocket Jackpot and the arcade gaming hit title, Merkur Mystery Jackpot.
Merkur Gaming was, as always, supported extensively by other members of the gaming family. Colleagues from Spain’s Merkur Dosniha, led by CEO Carlos Chacon, featured the full range of their market specific product portfolio and reported an exceptionally strong level of customer enquiries. While the Netherlands, a hugely successful market for Merkur, also has its own dedicated area of the ICE booth, showing top game titles, for both casino and arcade applications. A recent slot performance and analytics poll conducted by Eilers & Krejcik highlighted the M-Box Trio and its multigame content as the number 1 performing cabinet in the survey’s featured Holland Casinos location, running at 4.89 times floor average. Having shown impressive growth and performance, even through Covid affected times, Merkur’s UK subsidiary Blueprint presented its Avante Trio, Auroramax, Ultramax and Alpha Trio cabinets; each exhibiting powerful games collections that proved enthralling for all the home visitors to ICE, and those far beyond.
Cash handling gurus, GeWeTe also had a very successful ICE. The specialists in cash handling technology, GeWeTe displayed a huge selection of their market leading products, including a new addition to their Cash Center range, the Cash Center Backloader.
Merkur eSolutions presented its eSolutions terminal that allows customers, and their customers, rapid and seamless access to value-added online services. The company’s paylado e-wallet attracted great interest at the show, presenting what is described as the ‘easiest way to turn cash into e-money’. Also, in the iGaming space, online gaming specialists edict egaming, based in Hamburg, Germany, and with almost a quarter century’s experience, had in 2021 launched and now proudly displayed at ICE its Aggregator Solution that integrates various world class content providers into the edict platform. Edict continues to make great progress in Latin America and confirmed at ICE that March will see them exhibit at the GAT even in Cartagena, Colombia.
Three exhausting but hugely satisfying from a business point of view show days all combined to make the return of ICE an enormous success for Merkur. A sentiment clearly expressed by Sakis Isaakidis. “ICE was a truly excellent show, on all levels. We were all, exhibitors, customers, business partners and guests, able to celebrate one of the international gaming industry’s premier events. It was hard work, for everyone, but the sense of satisfaction that was so widely apparent by the end of the show. I want to thank the entire Merkur team for the work that they delivered during ICE. WE all did our job, the customers played their vital part and the overall result was simply outstanding. Taking everything into account I think we can all agree that 2023 was the best ICE… ever: Many Happy Returns, indeed!”