Review of EELEX 2001

1 January 2002

During the descent to Moscow the pilot announced that the weather was a little colder than London with some snow. In reality this was –10c and blizzard like snow conditions, the great British understatement, so no change there. As for immigration and the baggage hall these remain unchanged and only first time visitors are surprised or shocked at what appears to be chaos but in fact is a vast improvement on the early days , anyway my suitcase came through in 5 minutes so I think it was great. The only thing I cannot ‘see’ changing is when the doors open at the terminal and the smell that is with you throughout your visit of exhaust fumes seems worse than ever.

This year heralded the 10th Casino exhibition in Russia and also the10th anniversary of my first visit to Moscow where I spent 3 days before attending the first show in St.Petersburg..

General opinion is that 2000 was the best exhibition and that 1999 was probably the most poorly attended due to what the western world called a crisis but the Russian business people viewed as just a blip and knew that recovery and stability would return shortly.

Everything that you may have read or heard indicated that all stand space had been taken and that this was to be the best show ever. This could mean that the market is expanding or that an ever-increasing amount of suppliers and manufacturers are chasing the same level of business. This is quite often the case for shows that cater mainly for a local market.

EELEX 2001 certainly had high expectations from both sides and a lot to live up to.

Monday 12th december- Setting up.

Many of the exhibitors had been setting up for the second day and when I arrived there was a calm as most booths were virtually complete. After walking around the difference between the first year was that in St Petersburg the majority of the exhibitors were foreign companies with only a few percent being Russian and now the position is reversed. The most obvious change, even compared to last year, was the vast increase in booths showing slot machines that seemed to be on every other stand.
Many of the senior management from most of the foreign companies were yet to arrive and quite content to leave this stage to their distributors and partners who by now were experienced enough to get everything ready for the big day.
I spoke to a number of people to find out what their expectations were and a very confident John Hyams of Huxley’s stated simply “sales, sales, sales” whereas Daniel Van Marissing of Bourgogne and Grasset/ Bud Jones company was looking to reinforce the new joint name and product line whilst emphasising the same service value that B&G are known for. How big will their business card need to be when they also finalize the deal with Paulson?
Peter Lingard of TCS was keen to support their distributor and to assess the future market potential. Whilst over on the Unicum ship Jon Lancaster from Atronic was looking forward to gauging the reaction of new games just previewed in Vegas and being able to assist Unicum’s exceptional sales effort, which has seen them being referred to as the largest supplier to the market.

Time to leave with everyone maintaining they were going to have an early night in readiness for the first day

Tuesday 13th December– Day1

Within an hour of opening there was already a constant stream of visitors and booths were filling with prospective customers. As you look down into the main hall the standard of purpose built stands was high and if transported to London or Vegas would not have been out of place. Notably GEM the Russian manufacturer of live games equipment with an Egyptian themed stand and very popular poker table with live demonstration games .The central area was dominated by a 2 storey booth from Unicum in the shape of a ship/Liner and on board were Atronic, Bally, CEW and Suzo..
IGRO Service with an impressive pyramid style above an array of machines and CISsupplies showing the range of Novomatic machines including their multi roulette. Unidesa from Spain also had a large booth in the central area and with live games suppliers TCS from England and SET from St Petersburg adding some balance.

By mid afternoon it was the busiest I had seen any local show and it was difficult to get to speak to many of the exhibitors, as they were busy coping with their clients. I recognised and talked to many of the operators who were coming from all regions of Russia and also from Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, and Belarus and they were pleased with what the show had to offer.

By the end of the day it was quoted that some 2000 people had registered which according to co-organiser Michael Mellor was 80% of the previous years total for the 3 days. General opinion from the exhibitors was that most of the people attending were prospective clients so a good day all round.

Hospitality that night was on offer from the Casino Arbat and for Exhibitors and Customers alike the night was yet young with much business to discuss.

Wednesday 14th December - Day 2

Noticeably less people around compared to yesterday and already a number of those from outside Moscow starting to leave to get back to their casinos for Friday and Saturday night business but still enough to keep everyone busy.

Jim McCann from Kimble was as enthusiastic as ever and John Hyams was busily taking orders for stock they hold in Moscow which now includes playing cards with a stock design which are only sold to casinos and not available on the retail market..

Over on the VEC stand Daniel from B&G was busily explaining the principles of the Safejack system being shown here for the first time now that the initial start up problems had been resolved. He was waiting for the ink to dry to confirm an order for a large casino in Moscow who would be the first to use this system; maybe the chips are here already! On the same stand Edvins Lobinsh of CTC (they are the official distributor in Latvia for B&G) was showing a new range of chairs and a very good electronic display being produced by his company in Riga. Chairs seem to be a product where few companies can match the quality of the American and European manufacturers but they are getting closer.

Still keen to show a high profile here despite increasing local competition TCS had a large booth in the central area and the full senior management team including Simon Herbert and Peter Lingard were on hand to assist their staff and customers alike. The TCS Tablemax system was being shown for the first time alongside the Shufflemaster King and Ace and Quickdraw shuffling machines. This product seems to be taking some time to gain acceptability but is working well in casinos such as Shangri La.

Close by on the CIS Supplies stand Harmen Brenninkmeijer confirmed that they had now supplied 4-multi roulette to St. Petersburg and 4 In Moscow and they also have a six station Touchbet roulette in the Shangri la in Moscow. I must admit I was surprised not to see this at the show as roulette is popular in Russia and once the operators see this in action it will become big. John Huxley also missed the opportunity here by not showing Rapid Roulette.

The GEM booth was always busy and Nicholai Balandin the founder and President seemed to be everywhere talking to his clients. Michele Limongi of NTP playing cards, who works in association with GEM, has now been in Moscow for 3 years and has had a good year with orders for his plastic playing cards from 15 casinos in the Moscow region including Golden Palace, Corona and Déjà Vu which is a new casino yet to

Related Links
Eastern European Leisure Exhibition (EELEX) 2001