UK Regulator Calls for an End to ‘Swimsuit Sexism’
This week, the International Casino Exhibition (ICE Totally Gaming) saw hundreds of the world’s biggest online gambling providers hit London’s Docklands to attend the B2B gaming event that is heralded by many as being the biggest in the industry. However, this year, appearances may have changed a little, with the promo girls being instructed to ensure they cover up as opposed to flashing the flesh.
According to news reports, scantily clad promo girls could well and truly become a thing of the past of the UKGC has anything to do with it. While it has become common practice for operators and suppliers to attempt to recreate some of the glitz and glamor of Vegas casinos in dull and lifeless exhibition spaces through the use of babes in bikinis, the UK regulator has made a formal move against the practice and threatened to boycott ICE Totally Gaming if there’s too much flesh on show.
The person taking a stand against the use of bikini-clad models is Sarah Harrison, UKGC chief. She has urged suppliers and operators to use their imagination to come up with something more creative, and certainly less chauvinistic, than the swimsuit sexism that is rife in the industry.
Harrison’s eyes were well and truly opened to the extent of the problem when she attended the previous year’s exhibition. She later described how sexism appeared to be ingrained in the industry and seriously undermined its reputation.
Female colleagues are expected to wear nothing
“This is an industry where we have a number of talented, powerful and successful women,” she had informed the International Casino Conference. “Yet from walking around the exhibition you wouldn’t know this.
“Instead, you saw men representing their companies wearing expensive tailored suits whilst their female colleagues were expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits. I say bring this to an end now.”
Her indignation came not long after an article in the Financial Times had revealed that female staff at an élite men-only “President’s Club” charity event that had been attended by many notable CEOs from a variety of industries had been consistently fondled and hassled against their wishes throughout the event.
The Financial Times’ expose provoked a media storm in the UK and Harrison was shrewd in her assumption that media players would be actively seeking similar stories. She is resolute that the gaming industry, which has attracted its fair share of media scandals, needs to refresh its image or continue to be on the receiving end of media attacks.
Journalists Setting Sights on ICE Totally Gaming?
However, according to delegates of the event, the ICE has not witnessed anything as seedy as the reported incidents at the President’s Club. Speaking in an article that was published in the Guardian an attendee of the previous year’s ICE, the delegate revealed that, while there was “quite a lot on show… I’ve never seen any predatory behavior like the Presidents Club.”
Harrison isn’t the only one to have raised concerns. The organizers of the ICE, the European Casino Association and Clarion Gaming, have reportedly issued an open letter to this year’s exhibitors requesting them to employ more conservative marketing practices at this year’s convention.
“In the spirit of the 21st century, when both women and men play strategic and decision-making roles in businesses, we encourage all exhibitors to mindfully represent support staff promoting their products at the show in a non-offensive and non-stereotyping way,” the letter stated.
“For both organizations, it is clear that presenting a modern and diverse gaming industry should be at the heart of the show. For this to be successful and ensure that all participants feel equally welcome, the respectful representation of genders is crucial.”