It is only in the aftermath of a major trade show that some hidden undercurrents of impressions begin to surface.
ICE was a prodigious experience and after all the daft hoo-haa about half-dressed ladies has justifiably been seen off, all the other half-felt thoughts attain more clarity.
One of them was the recurring nature of the street market’s closer relationship with land-based gaming. It is something many of us have alluded to over the years, but it has become progressively more pronounced each year.
The humble AWP machine - and its locations - was once looked down upon by the doyens of casinos and slots. There was a veritable gulf dividing them. “Not our business,” the casinos used to say, loftily. “Different people…”
Times have changed. The suppliers of slots, who once only built slots, have long since "crossed the floor." Nearly all of them make AWPs, probably because they recognise that Europe has around a million of them in operation, dwarfing the numbers of slots in operation. And the machines themselves have to be scrutinised close up in order to tell the difference, usually by the payouts.
And they were all there this year… All of the big names who make slots, with big stands at ICE, and displays that included the humble AWP machine.
Yet it is logical of course. Only to us Brits is there a lasting difference in concept between AWPs and casino slots. That’s because we have so many AWPs and so few (limited by statute - daft) slots permitted in casinos. And because our street market - at least in the 1,000 or so arcades and other locations where AWPs are permitted - have AWPs or similar-looking devices, sitting alongside pure amusements.
That doesn’t happen in other countries. So the foreign visitors to EAG, for example, might be forgiven for scratching their heads and wondering why gambling machines are there cheek-by-jowl with kiddie rides and cranes.
Is the AWP sector breaking away from amusements? Too early to say. But many of the suppliers and the AWP operators were probably in London twice in a fortnight to go to the same venue for different shows - that were actually not THAT different.
Not for me to draw conclusions (too cowardly). I instead yen for the old days… ATEI, when life was so uncomplicated.