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ICE 2022 Conference, Covid and Live Casino Report

The International Casino Exhibition (ICE) for 2022 was at the London Excel Conference Centre between the 11th and 14th of April.

It’s the first time the conference has run since February 2020, so I was keen to see old faces, meet up with new connections and avoid getting Covid. See how I got on below!

ice 2022 live casino update

It was great to attend the London International Casino Exhibition (ICE), my first business conference since February 2020 and I have three take always I’d like to share.

1. I caught Covid while there – no surprise.
2. It was busy but not as busy as in previous years.
3. Live Casino is moving ahead with new suppliers, games, and innovative changes.

Covid and the Conference

covid poll

I need to start by saying these are my observations and are not part of any official study.

It’s no wonder I caught Covid. I spent most of my time in close contact with people from all over the world that I’d not seen for the past two and half years. Hugs and shaking hands were the norms. Masks were not obligatory, and I counted about a dozen people wearing masks over the four days there.

Fortunately, I am triple jabbed, so I had a very mild illness, which is common with other cases I know.

Since returning home, it feels like 50% of the people I know who attended also caught Covid. However, to validate this, I ran a poll on LinkedIn to see if I could get the real numbers.

Of the people that responded to the question, 21% were positive for Covid, while 79% were negative, leading me to believe the actual figure is probably about 35%.

I make no judgment. It is what it is. I thought it was something interesting to share.

It was not too busy

Outwardly, the conference looked the same, but many of the usual more prominent exhibitors either did not attend or attended and didn’t have stands.

With everything in constant flux, it was difficult for some to commit to such a significant expenditure for stands when the government could impose restrictions at short notice.

Those attending appreciated the increased visibility they gained from the more prominent players being missing. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say.

As for me, I got to see all of the live casino operators that had stands and some that didn’t. I was disappointed I didn’t get to see some but glad I connected with people I’d only met through Skype.

Live Casino at ICE

My whole reason for attending ICE is to meet with the established and new live casino providers.

It allows me to understand how the market is developing and if any new game trends are coming.

It’s also my chance to meet with the newer providers that I’ve come across or who’ve contacted me wanting a face-to-face.

So here’s my rundown of all things live casino.

Evolution/Ezugi

There was no big stand from Evolution this year. I met with Fredrik Bjurle, who previously just worked for Evolution, but now has the additional role of Chief Product Officer at Ezugi.

It’s always great to catch up with Fredrik. The live games roadmap for 2022 is much the same as Todd Haushalter’s back in February. There are a few adjustments and delays to the delivery schedule.

The same is true of the Ezugi Roadmap, which Fredrik presented back in February. The much-awaited blackjack Video game presents some challenges for the regulators, so it will be interesting to see which markets pass this game for use.

digiwheel

DigiWheel is a company now owned by Evolution, so I took a look at this innovative product.

I was very impressed with what I saw and learned. It’s a gigantic wheel, but what’s different is the whole of the wheel is a display panel that can show additional images.

One minute it’s a Dream Catcher wheel, the next it’s showing some sports game.

I’m very much hoping that Evolution will use this as a way to get their entertainment games shows onto the floor in land-based casinos.

I can see Dreamcatcher or Crazy Time in a Las Vegas casino. Let’s hope that becomes a reality.

7Mojos

7mojos

7Mojos is one of the new operators I reviewed about 18 months ago.

They have continued their development, refining their games and gaining market position.

With their new Galaxy Studio, they’ve also taken the bold step of creating a USP, bringing a space theme and younger feel to the presentation of the games.

I like the look of this.

Pragmatic Play

pragmatic

Pragmatic Play had by far the biggest stand at the conference.

A few years ago, when they launched their live casino operation, they made some very bold statements about wanting to become the best live casino provider.

Well, I have to say they are doing an excellent job. Behind closed doors, some of their competitors are pretty complimentary about the games they have produced.

For me, Sweet Bonanza Candyland has been a refreshing change. The only live game makes me smile when I enter it. It’s bright, happy, fun, and good to play.

Pragmatic has another blockbuster on its way with Boom City Live, which we’ll see sometime in July. It’s a presented entertainment game driven by rolling dice.

Authentic Gaming

Authentic Gaming has seemingly been quiet since its purchase by Scientific Games, now known as Light and Wonder.

They have added two additional table games to their already robust roulette portfolio – Baccarat and Blackjack, which positions them well for entry into more markets.

Expect to see Authentic games appear in Ontario, Michigan, Italy and Spain. XL Roulette is going to be available on the desktop soon.

Playtech

Playtech didn’t have a stand, and finding their meeting room was a challenge. But as always, I got a warm welcome from Kevin and Edo. As usual, they shared a few surprises with me.

If you didn’t already know, Playtech Live has shut down its Asian studios in the Philippines. It happened a little while ago but explained why some tables are no longer available in the Lobby.

The main news is a slight shift in focus on developing new live games. While network games will still dominate the portfolio, Playtech live will create more customer-specific games.

We’ve recently seen this with the Safari Slots game at 888, and now a new live entertainment game has been launched with the Entain group of casinos.

The trend will see online casinos offer their USP in a live casino, driving more traffic to their casinos. It’s a clever idea, and as an active player, I look forward to playing more of these unique games.

Expect more changes to existing games, a tie-up with the Jumanji brand, more Millionaire games and expansion in new markets.

Italy and the US will see existing games modified for launch in those countries – such as Double Zero Quantum Roulette in Michigan.

More entertainment games are in development, with Everybody’s Jackpot and Jokers Club being two currently in development.

Mega Fire Blaze Roulette has been a massive success. It’s by far my favourite roulette game with Multipliers. William Hill has their version now, and we’re likely to see Baccarat and Blackjack get the Mega Fire Blaze treatment.

There is certainly lots to look forward to, and who knows, I might take a visit to see the studios in Riga again.

Vivo Gaming

vivo

Vivo Gaming has a new Chief Commercial Officer, Neil Howells and it was great to hear their plans for the future.

They were most excited about their latest user interface and playing UI’s, which they showed me.

I promised I’d say that while their promotional giveaways are rather dull, their games aren’t, so you should take a look.

CreedRoomz

creedroomz

CreedzRoom is a Betconstruct live casino studio, with a great selection of games. They are the first to offer Blackjack Switch, which is a real fun game to play.

A robotic dealer arm, dealing a game of Baccarat, drew me to their stand. Once costing over £150k, these robots now come in at £15k and offer the Asian market a cost-effective way of playing live dealer without a human.

I saw these a few years ago and uptake has not really happened. Perhaps now with a reduced price tag, we might see one or two tables with these dealing the cards.

robot arm

New Live Casino Providers

Winfinity

Winfinity and Digitain caught my attention before the conference. So it was great to meet the guys from Winfinity. We chatted briefly about their great new live casino games and the studios in Riga. I have an open invite from them which I’ll probably take up late this year for a visit.

I’m impressed with the quality of what they have produced so far.

Digitain

digitain

Digitain is based in Armenia and has very big plans in the live casino sector.

The head of the live casino is Matthew Charlesworth has a long pedigree in Live casinos, having worked on both the operator and casino side.

Again they are keen for me to fly out and look at what they have developed, and I’ll certainly do that and report back. So watch this space.

Swintt

swintt

Swintt is another live casino provider that’s just launched.

They have tables streamed from a studio in a Las Vegas casino– which caught my attention, but unfortunately, very little information. I’m hoping for a visit in October when I visit G2E.

Currently, they have seventy-nine brands using their live casino software, which offers Roulette, Bacarrat and Tiger Bacarrat on a Mobile-first basis. Blackjack is due to be launched shortly.

A UKGC license is being applied for and should be live by the end of the year.

Rounding Off

I was disappointed not to meet with Stakelogic and On-Air Entertainment, both new suppliers who entered the market during the past 12 months.

I’ll catch up with them offline and publish updates when I have them.

Summary

As conferences go, I enjoyed this one, probably because it’s been a while since I attended one and because it was smaller than usual. There was less to see, so it wasn’t as hectic and tiring getting round to everyone.

The organisers did a great job, and although I caught Covid due to my behaviour, it didn’t lessen the experience.

Over and above everything, Live Casino is doing exceptionally well. The constant stream of new entrants into the niche constantly amazes me. As a player, I love it, and the more innovation, the better as far as I’m concerned.

My only plea to the providers is don’t mess with the core games. Don’t change the rules of a game on us – by all means, add extra features, bonus rounds and side bets, but keep the central game accurate. Create new games we’ve never seen before – preferably that require some skill to play. I hope to see more mashup games from the big providers, like the ones Playtech has been producing for the last few years and Pragmatic/Evolution are now starting to do.

Will we see a BTG/Evolution Live-RNG game? I hope so.

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About Neil’s Casino Comparer Reviews

I have tried to be objective and consistent with all my live casino reviews. Hopefully, they will strike a chord with you, but I thought it might be helpful to explain the criteria I use to mark each of the casinos. Hopefully, the categories and explanations make sense.

Playability – What is the overall impression of the casino? Did I have a good time? are the dealers nice and chatty and is everything easy to understand? Does it have a good set of games and is there a comprehensive set of betting options? Are high stakes players taken care of?

Software – What is the software like to use and does it integrate well with the rest of the casino?. Are the images clear and is the video streaming fast? Have they taken more than the default shared tables? Is it available on mobile?

Payment Options – Does the casino have a good variety of payment options? Do they payout quickly and on time?

Security – How good is the reputation of the casino amongst other players? Do they hold a valid gaming license? Are they transparent about the security measures they have in place? Are they regularly audited? Do they publish this information?

Support – Do they have multiple methods for communication with me? Is support available 24×7? Do they have instant chat and are they quick to respond? Are they able to help me immediately? Do they have an online FAQ and self-help library? Are the support people knowledgeable about the product I’m playing?

Bonuses – Do they have bonuses?. How strict are the wagering requirements? Do they offer repeat bonuses?. Do they offer loyalty points and can they be redeemed for cash or playing credits?

After all that, would I play there regularly?

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