DUBLIN, Ireland — AmEx 2008, the 29th Irish Gaming & Amusement Trade Exhibition, is shaping up to be one of the largest and best-attended to date, according to show organizers. The trade show is set to take place here at the Lynch Green Isle Hotel on March 4 and 5, Tuesday and Wednesday.
This year’s AmEx is expected to benefit from a revitalized gaming and amusement sector in Ireland, expanding both exhibitor and visitor participation. Among the new exhibitors are AMG Leisure, Cashpoint, Image Time, Infogame, Innovative Technology, JC Gaming, Noraut and Photo-Me Ireland, along with Pigallegame Ireland, Purcell Associates, SGI Imports and Towergate.
According to MD Associates, AmEx’s organizer, pre- registration for the 2008 event is up considerably compared with the year prior. Advance registration is available here; by signing up online, visitors will gain free admission and circumvent registration lines at the exhibition. Also available online is a list of exhibitors, floor plan and information on the Irish amusement market, among other details of interest.
MD Associates’ Martin Dempsey reports that AmEx will reflect growing interest in Ireland’s casino and betting sectors. Industry observers here believe that Justice Minister Brian Lenihan will soon decide on what action to take in relation to a gambling study prepared by the Casino Regulation Committee. “Many involved in the industry are hopeful that this will result in the necessary legislation to develop the industry being enacted,” Dempsey said.
The committee was set up in August 2006 to examine the potential of a legislative basis for strict regulation of casino-style operations. Its report has been submitted to Ireland’s Department of Justice, which appointed the committee, but still has to go before the government.
Under the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, which still regulates Ireland’s gaming, it is illegal to operate a public casino. However, live gaming - blackjack, poker and roulette for instance - is permitted in “private clubs.” New legislation could also affect small stakes AWPs (amusements with prizes), which are legal to operate in specialized gaming and amusement centers. There are an estimated 10,000 of these arcade sites run by 400 operators.
One year ago, the Irish Gaming & Amusement Association (IGAA), which represents the coin-op amusement industry, met with Justice Department officials to discuss the trade’s concerns. At this point, Dempsey said the IGAA expects Ireland’s government to begin reviewing the committee report in April. Dempsey also serves as secretary of the IGAA, which was previously called the Irish Amusement Equipment Association. Meanwhile, amid the absence of workable legislation, the Irish trade and manufacturers that support it are busy preparing and developing equipment for probable changes in the casino, AWP and amusement markets. Ireland and France are among the last EU nations without official gaming regulations.
Also noteworthy at this year’s AmEx will be the presentation of the Mary Openshaw Memorial Award to its fifth recipient, yet to be announced. The award was created five years ago to honor the late journalist, who was based Brussels, and to recognize an outstanding individual serving the amusement industry.
Eduardo Antoja, Euromat president, was the first recipient of the Openshaw award. Subsequent honorees were Mike Nevin, managing director of Namco Europe; Hans Rosenzweig, a Euromat past-president; and industry veteran Shane Breaks.
“Visitors from all over Ireland and further a field will converge on Dublin for the two most important days on the Irish gaming and amusement trade calendar,” Dempsey summed up.
AmEx is supported by the IGAA, a member of Euromat, and sponsored by Coin-Op News, a monthly multilingual gaming and amusement trade magazine published by MD Associates. Further information, including driving directions, can be had by calling Martin Dempsey at 353 (0) 45 521 190 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. AmEx participants can book rooms at special rates here.