London Meister Report 2018: ICE, LAC and other meanderings
Let me begin by saying that it was an awesome week, and I’m glad that my cold kicked in as soon as I got home. There would have been no way to suffer through a week of being a miserable sick whiny-pants like I was upon my return.
When I think of London, the first thing that comes to my mind are the pubs. Max did a great job and found us a new one to check out The Angel Pub (101 Bermondsey Wall E) which has Samuel Smith’s Extra Stout – a Casinomeister favorite – it’s the same beer that the Chandos has – another one of our haunts. Anyway, we sat and chilled out and discussed the PABs from last year.
There was a massive increase in 2017 as opposed to 2016, and there are several reasons for that. For one, we think people are more inclined to use a third party arbitrator like our PAB service – which is a good thing. Another reason is that many of the PABs we are getting are “shotgunned” attempts to get their problems solved. They will submit a complaint with thePogg, AskGamblers, and us to see which one gets through. This is a bit frustrating since many of these are hit and runs – we never hear from these people again. Not even an update. So we need to solve this issue by modifying the PAB instructions that allow members to use only one ADR service at a time.
We were soon joined by Adnan, who has recently launched Karjala Casino (Finnish facing) and Agent Spinner. He joined us for a couple of brews at this Angel pub – whihc is really a quaint and unique place. It was a fantastic choice for a first stop. We had a nice talk about the current state of the industry and about his two casinos. They are almost ready for a Baptism by Fire – but not quite yet. Agent Spinner sounds pretty amazing.
From there we sauntered out – braving the sharp wind – freaking cold, almost like Germany – and it snowed when I left. We were on our way to our annual traditional dinner with Micki from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, who has been a friend of mine for a very long time. She is a pioneer of this industry – she has been extremely influential to loads of us. Other guests were other key persons of the the KGC to include their tribal chief Chief Norton, and other notable pioneers like Sue Schneider and Jetset, Max and me. It was an awesome dinner in the Le Pont de la Tour restaurant by the Thames, and we discussed a number of things – everything from some of our experiences of the old days of online gaming to Trump America. Yay.
Leaving at the wee hours, I had forgotten how cold London can be at night – with the winds whipping up from the icy blackness of the Thames. I had forgotten to put on a scarf.
And then came Tuesday – the first day of the ICE and our cherished traditional Meister Meeting.
For you newbie readers, the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) has been held in London annually in January/February. This was my 18th attendance to the exhibition – my first being in 2001 (ICE 2001 Casinomeister Report).
Back in the day, there were no affiliate programs per se – I attended to meet up with software providers because they were my main point of contact in case any complaints came my way. I remember meeting Roger Raatgever the CEO of Microgaming (who still holds this position by the way) in his booth with a handful of other employees. I think the booth measured about four meters by four meters at the very most – empty except for a couple of tables and some chairs. It was one of the largest in the bunch in the lonely upstairs section of Earls Court where the Internet Gaming section was. He was chuffed to meet me. He knew who I was – or at least the site Casinomeister – he, along with others, had used Casinomeister as a reference back then. I was amazed back then who knew me or who was aware of the site. And I also was surprised on how many people who were getting in the business who had no connections with any player community. How do you think you know what players want when you’ve never read about their wants, needs or wishes? Things have not changed in this aspect. There are plenty of new people who haven’t a clue. They are profit driven opportunists.
Blast from the past: ICE 10 February 2004
The exhibition floor was huge, and it took a while to find the online gaming section of the ICE. It was disappointingly small. Only a handful of booths filled two rows and several of the leading suppliers of gaming software were not represented. Why? Because it seems they have no need to rent a space (Microgaming for one) since they are not taking on new clients. Makes sense, but it would have been nice to see a demonstration of what is to come…Microgaming for example is always developing new games. And…sources tell me that some fantastic new slots are due out soon (you think Thunderstruck and Spring Break are groovy, just wait). But anyway, many of these reps were loitering around, they just didn’t have booths. No problem with that since I can still get what I want. And what do I want? I want information.
One thing for sure – the ICE has become bloated beyond anything imaginable. Going to the modern day ICE is a task of endurance. How far can you walk? Who has the most presumptuous booth? Who can put on the best “dog and pony” show? Max and I were a bit bemused and disconcerted on how many new operations there were – software companies, payment processors, many we had never heard of, who have no connection whatsoever to the grass roots of the industry: the player communities. And we walked the walk – looking for familiar faces or the chance freebie – like some food. I always seem to skip breakfast at these shows, which is never a good thing.
So we meandered to the Fox Bar – right outside the ICE entrance next to Starbucks – grabbed a beer and some well deserved Fish n’Chips. Chatted some more remembering that in this bar was where I decided to rename Casinomeister’s “Reservation” to the “Grey Zone” after one of the Kahnawakes asked about “why the reservation?” Yep, made sense – Grey Zone is much more appropriate – it’s the section at Casinomeister where we list casinos that may or may not meet the standards of a Casinomeister Accredited casino. We are averaging several new listings a week – which is a good thing. We provide reviews – some guidance but no guarantees for these casinos. Always check these out with a bit of caution – read the review.
Anyway, from here we left and wandered back into the massive Excel – several kilometers later we had about had it and headed to Leicester Square for our highly anticipated Meister Meeting.