ICE Asia 2020 goes digital

by William Brown Last Updated
An eye to the future at next month’s ICE showcase

Asia’s newest gaming industry trade show and exhibition has been delayed due to COVID-19.

Asgam reports that the inaugural ICE Asia is postponed until 2021, with the ICE brand instead make its Asian debut online, with ICE Asia Digital set to take place from June 8 to 10.

If there is one positive to come from the devastation COVID-19 has wreaked on the global gaming industry, it’s undoubtedly the innovation so many companies have shown in navigating these troubled waters.

The events scene is proving to be no different.

While the inaugural ICE Asia, originally scheduled to take place from June 8 and 9 in Manila has been postponed, organiser Clarion Gaming wasted no time in announcing a digital summit, ICE Asia Digital 2020, to fill the void.

Running from 8 to 10 June, ICE Asia Digital is a free online event offering three days of unique content focusing on gaming in Asia, including a specific focus on topical subjects such as tech innovation, the future of gaming and how the market will recover post-COVID-19.

ICE Asia Digital 2020 will open with a keynote discussion by Andrea Domingo, chairman and chief executive of Philippine gaming regulator PAGCOR from one of the jurisdictions hit hardest by COVID-19 lockdowns.

2ndt8 Limited’s Alidad Tash, former Galaxy Entertainment Group chief marketing officer Kevin Clayton and Sanford C Berstein analyst Vitaly Umansky will host a panel examining the state of the market and what regional recovery might look like.

Day two will include contributions from Steve Wolstenholme, acting chief executive of Suncity Group’s Vietnamese casino Hoiana, as well as by Jose Angel Sueiro, chief operating officer of PH Resorts – which is currently developing casino resorts in Cebu and Clark and by Michael Saequis, executive director of the office of liquor and gaming regulation in Queensland.

The second half of day two will feature an in-depth look at the latest developments in Japan following the shock withdrawal of Las Vegas Sands from the race to win an integrate resort licence and rumours that Tokyo may soon throw its hat into the ring.

Chaired by Brendan Bussman of Global Market Advisors, the panel discussion will centre around the timeline for casino development in Japan and be discussed by Ayako Nakayama of the Japan integrated resort association.

Casinos in Manila are empty but owners aren’t idle

For the last two months, Manila’s Entertainment City – where Las Vegas’ glamour meets the Philippines has been a ghost town.

Nikkei Asia Review reported last month that since March, Manila’s four integrated casino resorts have been empty.

Steel barricades have replaced the inviting smiles of the greeters.

Even the bomb-sniffer dogs appear lethargic and forlorn.

“As everybody else, they are losing money,” gaming industry champion Andrea Domingo, who heads the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp said.

The virus, which has hit tourism across the region hard, has hammered the gambling industry from Manila to Macau, with cashflows running dry as casinos have been forced to shut.

Even in Macau, where the pause lasted just 15 days, and now in South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand, where some casinos have started to reopen, traffic is likely to remain subdued as gamblers remain hesitant about mingling in crowds and governments maintain strict border controls and quarantine measures.

“Although we expect recovery in 2021, we think it is likely to remain lower than in 2019 as we anticipate the economic implication from the pandemic may drag on,” Fitch analyst Erlin Salim said.

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