Perhaps you are enjoying some time off after this week’s ICE Totally Gaming exhibition in London. Possibly you are enduring a lengthy trip home, or maybe you are still at ExCeL, working your way around the bustling London Affiliate Conference.

Wherever visitors find themselves in the days and weeks following ICE, nearly all will be reflecting on the event and what it meant for them this year, and what it means for their business interests into 2018 and beyond. In spite of aching limbs and sore heads, there is always a do-or-die spirit in evidence at ICE. You’ve just got to keep going. This is partly because people are working hard and simply seeking to do their jobs well but it is mostly thanks to the huge opportunity ICE offers the gaming and betting sector.

Clarion will reassure us with this year’s visitor numbers in due course but they are largely immaterial to most attendees – ICE is simply the best business development opportunity of the year.

Highlights? There are too many to list but one feature was the wide variation in stand designs, each seeking to best showcase the exhibitor while remaining welcoming to visitors.

The Novomatic ‘village’ remains the stuff of legend while this year saw the Austrian company’s great German rival, Gauselmann, stake a claim with a vast booth of its own. At IGT and EGT, and at Scientific Games, the energy on the stands across the three days was bordering on relentless.

If the land-based gaming sector laid claim to the most impressive real estate, the online gaming cohort offered some of the most engaging experiences. Playtech‘s Justice League Batmobile at the east entrance and NetEnt‘s vast screens broadcasting Narcos and Vikings trailers to the floor. There was Microgaming offering visitors a 360-degree video experience on the boulevard and a range of experiences, including a foot archer (pictured).

Elsewhere, Pragmatic Play’s Tyrannosaurus Rex marched by under the watchful gaze of the fire-breather dragons atop the Yggdrasil Gaming stand. Throughout ICE, there were cheerleaders, jugglers, dancers and all kinds of razzmatazz.

The event made the national media, of course, although not in the way the organisers would’ve liked. A number of UK media outlets picked up on outgoing Gambling Commission CEO Sarah Harrison’s comments about the role of women at ICE, referencing men in “expensive tailored suits whilst their female colleagues were expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits,” adding the threat of boycott from the UK regulator.

In truth, a noticeable trend this year at ICE was a reduction in the number of largely undressed and or/bodypainted young women (and men) parading the floor, trying to drive traffic to this stand or that. The UK press however latched onto one or two examples that, taken out of context, suggest that the event was akin to the last days of Rome, with debauchery on every corner.

Take a look at CasinoBeats’ photos of ICE 2018 here.

If you did not make it to ExCeL this year, rest assured that these were isolated incidents – albeit pointing to some very serious questions the industry must address about the depiction of women in games and their representation within the sector more generally.

Let’s hope that the sensational treatment the British press likes to dish out does not bury the serious and timely point Sarah Harrison was seeking to make.

Next year, ICE will return. As always, the same but different. With a number of high-profile companies exhibiting only at ExCeL during the year, the preparations for ICE 2019 are already well underway. CasinoBeats will see you there.