ICE London 2024 was buzzing with innovations, but gambling brands overlooked the PR opportunity to align with key trends such as AI, responsible gambling and sustainable gaming.
What our analysis found: Commetric’s analysis of 408 English-language articles published in the last 30 days revealed that the primary focus of the ICE media debate was on new gaming product and technology launches, with the majority of brands utilising the final London edition of the long-running expo as a platform to exhibit their latest gaming technology.
- Our thematic and message analysis also found that Immersive experiences, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), emerged as the most discussed gaming solutions, with media outlets emphasising their significant potential to enhance player engagement and transform the gaming landscape.
- For example, SoftSwiss and BGaming gained media attention by introducing a range of immersive slot games, while Light & Wonder and Kiron Interactive launched sports games with more realistic player movement and innovative betting options.
- Other gaming innovations that stood out included personalised gaming experiences, electronic table games, and advancements in payments and cash handling, marking a significant interest in technologies that enhance operational efficiency.
The responsible gambling imperative: In the meantime, responsible gambling emerged as the second most discussed topic at ICE London 2024, largely due to the significance of the Consumer Protection Zone (CPZ), which positioned ICE as the first B2B gambling exhibition with a floor area dedicated to safer gambling since its inception.
For example, Clarion gained media exposure not only by organising ICE London 2024 but also by supporting the International Center for Responsible Gaming as its official charity partner for the event.
- Meanwhile, leading gambling brands like Flutter, Betsson Group, IGT, Novomatic, OpenBet‘s Neccton and Playtech gained positive PR by donating to two charities – The International Center for Responsible Gambling and Betblocker – via the Consumer Protection Zone.
The missed opportunities: As B2B events like ICE have strong tech and innovation focus, gambling brands didn’t manage to capitalise on three important trends:
1. AI: Companies missed the opportunity to fully engage with the current headline-grabbing excitement around artificial intelligence.
- Betby and SoftSwiss were among the few brands that prominently stood out with their AI-enabled solutions, with Betby unveiling a suite of AI-based tools aimed at optimising sportsbook management, and SoftSwiss enhancing its casino platform with AI-driven event streaming.
- This was in contrast to other recent prominent events like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where AI innovations captured widespread attention and headlines.
Why it matters: From a PR and comms standpoint, it’s crucial for gambling brands to engage with the AI trend because it positions them as forward-thinking and innovative, fostering a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving gaming industry.
2. Responsible gambling: The problem here was that gaming majors focused their public relations on highlighting donations rather than concrete solutions.
- Our recent responsible gambling analysis suggested that companies can boost their reputational standing by introducing tech-enabled measures, like improved algorithms to detect problematic playing patterns or expanded options for players to set spending and time limits, and framing them not just as additional features but as integral parts of gaming products.
Why it matters: Presenting such solutions would have extended the lifespan of media attention beyond the event, as it would have shown a more dedicated commitment to addressing the gambling industry’s most significant challenge.
3. Sustainable gaming: Brands didn’t present any sustainability solutions, at a time when gambling has been increasingly scrutinised in the media for its carbon emissions from data centres and casino’s energy consumption 24 hours a day.
- This oversight was notable especially considering the previous year’s emphasis on sustainability, with companies like IGT leading the conversation with its Sustainable Play campaign aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of gaming operations.
Why it matters: For gambling companies, addressing sustainability is not just about corporate responsibility; it’s a strategic move to solve one of the industry’s key comms challenges – how to resonate with a younger demographic.