In the light of a series of high-profile exhibitor withdrawals, Stuart Hunter, Managing Director of ICE organiser Clarion Gaming has insisted that the April event will go ahead as rescheduled.
First to pull out was the Gauselmann Group’s Merkur Gaming and the German giant was soon joined by Austrian supplier and operator, Novomatic and the US-headquartered Scientific Games. The ICE event’s three largest exhibitors over recent years were then joined in withdrawing by Spain’s Zitro Games.
A statement from Novomatic described “a multitude of adverse aspects – including the pandemic, logistical challenges and, last but not least, the unfavourable and unavoidable alternative date – have culminated in a situation in which participating in the show is no longer viable.”
And a further statement from Zitro added: “This has not been an easy decision to make, and we had been looking forward to our participation. But there are many reasons that have caused us to withdraw from the event, being the main ones, the worldwide concern over the Omicron variant, the inconvenience of the new show dates clashing with Easter break, and the expected low attendance particularly of customers from other continents.”
Apart from any safety and logistical challenges, both Novomatic and Merkur will have been influenced by the fact that their home nations of Austria and Germany respectively still have strict laws in place surrounding the pandemic, and these include a ban on all trade shows.
On a positive note, the Novomatic statement confirmed that their Executive Board had not taken this decision lightly, adding that “ICE is a key trade show for the entire gaming industry and Novomatic hopes that the successful cooperation can be continued under more favourable conditions in 2023.”