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Inside Gaming: ICE Totally Gaming 2018 Earns Censure Over Sexism

Inside Gaming
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  • ICE Totally Gaming 2018 conference highlights industry innovations, but draws censure for sexism.

  • Pennsylvania opens up application process to merchants wishing to apply for gaming licenses.

This week's installment of Inside Gaming begins with some headlines from this week's big international gaming conference in London, offers an update on Pennsylvania's gaming expansion, reports on a casino magnate's resignation, and shares the story of a man's journey to honor Las Vegas shooting victims.

Gaming Conference Draws Criticism Over Sexism

The three-day International Casino Exhibition Totally Gaming 2018 (ICE) conference took place in London this week, an international gaming conference where providers, suppliers, manufacturers, innovators, and others from the gaming world come together to share the latest the industry has to offer.

More than 30,000 attendees from over 150 countries representing both the online and offline sectors took part in ICE Totally Gaming 2018. Scientific Games Corporation, the U.S.-based provider of gambling and lottery products and services, captured headlines for winning multiple international awards at the conference.

While a number of different themes and trends were highlighted, many analysts noted how the rise of sports betting appears to have emerged in a conspicuous way with many more operators and suppliers, including a number of non-traditional ones. As Alun Bowden noted in his recap of the conference for EGR, "sports betting has long been the lead product for the largest players but perhaps the next decade is where it becomes the lead product for all."

However another theme from the conference earned a great deal of attention this week, one suggesting that while the gaming industry continues to innovate in terms of its offerings, other attitudes associated with the industry haven't been so quick to evolve.

A speech made on the eve of the conference by Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, warned exhibitors against the use of scantily clad models and other egregious examples of sexism such as have marked the conference in the past. Harrison even spoke of the regulator boycotting the event otherwise, noting that "any future participation by the Gambling Commission in events like this will depend on there being change."

Harrison's warning went unheeded, however. As The Guardian reports, "the conference, at London's ExCel conference centre, opened with a Playboy-themed strip show and saw male guests ogling pole-dancers, while women working as hostesses claimed to have been propositioned for sex and groped." The Guardian's reporting included undercover videos taken at the event, with the story subsequently being picked up by many mainstream outlets.

The Guardian spoke with several industry representatives addressing the events as indicative that "broader change was needed in the industry."

Among such commentators was Alison Digges, managing director of gaming brands at Ladbrokes, who observed "the image of ICE doesn't reflect well on the industry and is a symptom of the problem that not enough women are seated at top tables and driving decisions."

Pennsylvania Invites Merchants to Apply for Gaming Licenses

We share a quick look-in on the proceedings in Pennsylvania following last fall's passage of the gambling expansion bill that has paved the way for online gambling in the state, the addition of 10 new "satellite" casinos, video gaming terminals and more.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has now opened the application process for manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers desiring to introduce gaming stations and terminals at their places of business. The applications were made available for on the PGCB's website at the end of January.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that merchants have until April 2 to complete and submit applications. A date has not yet been announced for the submission "platform-provider applications" to be submitted by current casinos in order for them to begin providing different online games.

Of note, "VGTs won't be coming to Philadelphia, Bucks, or Montgomery Counties... (as) they are among 10 counties, all of which are homes to casino(s), that chose not to allow the games."

Meanwhile another of the bi-weekly auctions to determine locations for the new "satellite" casinos (or "mini-casinos") took place this week, with the Mount Airy Casino Resort in Monroe county winning the third such auction with a big od $21.2 million, according to The Morning Call.

Put together with the earlier successful bids from the Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association and Stadium Casino, the Mount Airy bid pushes the overall total from the first three bids to $111.4 million, already eclipsing the $100 million the state had hoped to collect from the issuing of 10 slot and table game licenses.

Steve Wynn Resigns From Chairman, CEO Positions

On Tuesday casino magnate Steve Wynn stepped down as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations made against him. Wynn has also resigned from his position as chairman of Wynn Macau. As The New York Times reports, Matthew Maddox, president of Wynn Resorts since 2013, has been appointed to take over for Wynn.

Wynn has denied the allegations that came to light following an investigation published by The Wall Street Journal two weeks ago.

Long Island Firefighter Uses Jackpot Winnings to Honors Vegas Victims

Tommy Maher, a firefighter from Long Island, New York, has completed a lengthy, three-month-long journey to honor victims of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in which 58 were killed. As it happened, the journey was partially funded by a jackpot Maher won at a local casino at the start of the trip.

As ABC News reports, Maher "felt compelled to make a difference" following the October 1 shooting, inspired in part by the story of a friend who had been at the event and witnessed the tragedy.

Maher made leather bracelets with each of the 58 victims' names, then drove around the country to each of the victims' hometowns where he performed various acts of kindness in their names, including making donations to help memorialize the victims. "My hope was that it would inspire people to do the same," said Maher.

A GoFundMe page started by a friend gave Maher $7,200 with which to make his trip. That fund was supplemented by another $2,400 Maher won in a penny machine at Aqueduct Casino in New York at the start of his journey. He finally visited the last of the victims' hometowns — in Alaska — last month. Read more about Maher and his journey at ABC News.

Image: R. Franco Digital.

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