As usual DWC attended ICE Gaming show at the Excel in London last week.

ICE is probably the biggest real-money gaming show on the planet; an opportunity for operators, suppliers, regulators, consultants, entrepreneurs and players to gather and network, and see what’s on the horizon for digital, retail and land based casinos, bookies and lotteries.

For me and many of the RMG people, ICE is the start of the New Year because it gets everyone energised and ready for the year ahead. We forget the heartache and challenges of the previous year (e.g. POC Tax in UK) and look forward to the future!

This year was no exception; it was great to see the big names in the industry spend big on their elaborate exhibition stands, and also see new start-ups appear to keep everyone on their toes.

Here’s a few highlights for me from the show:

Omni Channel experience
It seems the industry has finally woken up to the fact that users are expecting the same level of service and entertainment value no mater what device they are using, or where they’re accessing it (e.g. desktop, mobile, retail or TV). In previous years I’ve heard businesses say they are offering ‘brick2click’ or ‘cross-channel’ solutions. These were earlier steps to create a holistic omni-channel view/experience, which I hope to see truly emerge in the industry in 2015.

Virtual gaming
Virtual sport gaming has been around for a long time in the industry, but companies like Inspired, SIS and 1×2 gaming are upping the ante. I was impressed with the high video gaming style graphics and the variations in the games. From replica leagues, instant games, number of sports and gameplay clarity across devices. My tip; virtual gaming will be a success on the mobile, especially if these companies can add social/casual gaming features.

With the value and price of bitcoin continuing to fall it still seems to have life in gaming and maybe, just maybe it becomes the currency that connects social gaming with real-money gaming. Whatever the future of bitcoin it seems there is still a small buzz in the industry that this currency could be valuable.

Market consolidation
With land based suppliers starting to consolidate this was probably the last year we’ll see separate stands for IGT, GTECH, WMS, Bally’s and SG Games. Personally, I have always enjoyed the healthy competition between these respective leaders in lotteries and land based casino suppliers. With SG Games already putting the brands under one umbrella at the show, it will be interesting to see how these consolidations impact the market in 2015. Will it stifle innovation? My prediction: We’ll see online operators consolidating in 2015 and a rise in start-ups to fill the gaps.

Whatever 2015 holds, one thing is for sure – gaming is going through digital transformation and will continue to grow.