By Earl
'I think it is fair to say that the London shows excelled in extremely difficult circumstances. Whilst the outline visitor figures are indicating a modest reduction in visitor numbers of around 2%, this should be set against three important factors: (i) the severe downturn in the fortunes of the coin-op sector, (ii) economic recession, (iii) the impact September 11th has had on international travel.

Exhibitors and visitors have gone on record as saying that ATEI 2002 provided much need direction, and that the industry left ATEI in far more confident and buoyant mood about the year ahead. Both of these points I believe to be true.

A criticism sometimes levelled at the exhibition is the lack of new product on show; this certainly wasn’t the case in 2002. We have been told that in the post ATEI week buyers have been struggling to make purchasing decisions simply due to the breadth of good product seen at the show. This is due, in part, to the large number of new exhibitors who attended London. At ATEI there were 70 new companies, at ICE the figure was 55. Overall, nearly one in three exhibitors were new, which is a staggering statistic and underlines our commitment to ensure that the exhibition continues to reflect technological and industry developments.

Feature areas including on-line@atei and the i-Gaming Zone definitely contributed to the vibrancy of the exhibition.

Whilst ATEI remained almost identical in size to 2001 with 11,000 square metres of stand space, the International Casino exhibition experienced a 15% increase in size to just under 6,000 square metres – the biggest show in the history of ICE.

At this year’s casino show, exhibitors highlighted a huge crossover of visitors from ATEI, which contributed to a consistently busy ICE. What were once two separate and quite distinct industries are now moving much closer together.

An aspect of the London shows that few people recognise is the huge number of off-floor activities, which take place. This year it appeared that the focus for the world’s regulators, opinion-formers and politicians was on London. ATEI/ICE hosted the International association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR), Euromat, the interactive Gambling, Gaming and Betting Association (iGGBA), Swiss Federal Gaming Board, Gaming Regulators Luncheon, World Summit of Trade Associations and the American Gaming Association. The IAGR meeting attracted 125 delegates from countries including New Zealand, Netherlands and the United States. These gatherings are important because they help fashion legislation in a context which is positive and sympathetic to the industry.

As a team we were prepared for a substantial decrease in attendance; this did not take place. Instead ATEI served as a rallying point for an industry prepared to rise to the challenges which lie ahead.'

Peter Rusbridge

Chief Executive ATEI

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