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London's Amusement Trade Show Scene: What's Next?

Posted On: 2/19/2009

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Amusement Trades Exhibition International, ATEI, coin-op, video game, videogame, jukebox, London Show, InterGame, vending, IGX, Cooke, BACTA, Earl's Court

LONDON -- New questions about the future of the London trade-show scene are circulating in the amusements industry following the conclusion of this year's Amusement Trades Exhibition International, held Jan. 27-29 at Earls Court here.

ATEI, so long dominant in the world amusements scene that it earned the nickname "The London Show," now faces the competition of not one - but two - additional expositions.

This year for the first time, ATEI faced a rival show in the same city: InterGame Expo, also known as IGX and sponsored by the trade magazine InterGame, ran concurrently with ATEI and was held at the nearby Ibis Hotel.

Organizers of both shows claimed success. ATEI sponsor Clarion Events reported a 12% increase in attendance over last year's show (9,182 dedicated amusement industry visitors plus 3,556 crossover badgeholders from ATEI's sister show for the gambling industry). Combined attendance for both its gaming and amusement shows topped 23,000, said Clarion, with the lion's share of attendance clearly driven by the casino industry, as has been the case for many years.

In related news, Clarion announced just days after the close of the show that exhibitions director Karen Cooke was leaving her post. Cooke said she planned to take another job in the gaming sector, though no immediate position was announced.

Meanwhile, InterGame said IGX 2009 attracted more than 2,000 visitors to review the products and services of 30 exhibitors. Owners of both shows said ATEI and IGX will return to their respective venues in 2010.

And a possible third London trade show may be in the works, under the ownership of ATEI's former owner, the British Amusement Catering Trades Association. BACTA is the UK's national amusement industry trade association.

InterGame reported that BACTA "was investigating ways in which it could return to the show organizing business in time for 2010," possibly at the Olympia exhibition center. Numerous BACTA members are manufacturers, and longtime ATEI exhibitors, who have expressed dissatisfaction with the new layout of ATEI. This arrangement puts amusement exhibits upstairs and the International Gaming Expo on the lower level of Earls Court. The change was made two years ago.