A fresh round of criticism was leveled this week against gambling businesses employing young models and actors dressed in lewd and stereotypical clothes while they worked at some of the over 600 exhibition tables at the London ICE trade show.
Organizers had promised to clean up the activities after complaints about prior years’ sexually suggestive wardrobes. But politicians and religious leaders once again criticized what they saw in media photos of the trade show held this week at the ExCel Centre.
A spokesman for the UK Gambling Commission confirmed Wednesday to Casino.org that officials were aware of the issues.
We called out the organizers about this two years ago and they have since launched a code of conduct,” the commission spokesman said. “It is a matter for the organizers to enforce that code.”
He added that the commission’s focus at the conference “is on making gambling safer for British consumers.”
Also, the controversial photos depicting women in revealing clothes — as published in The Guardian and the Daily Mail — were not promoting businesses licensed by the Gambling Commission, the spokesman added.
Stereotypes, Sexiness Mark Minimal Clothes on Exhibition Models, Actors
Trade show participants, such as Bulgaria’s EGT Gaming, featured Caucasian actors wearing stereotypical Egyptian and East Asian clothes, the Guardian reported.
Kajot, a business based in Czechoslovakia, hired three models wearing snug leather catsuits. The outfits also featured tails.
Clarion Gaming released a statement to Casino.org that Kajot violated a formal code of conduct. “Show management have spoken with the exhibitor concerned and immediate action was taken to ensure compliance,” the Clarion statement added.
“ICE is fully committed to providing a safe, respectful and appropriate environment for all of our attendees. Our Code of Conduct makes this clear, and includes specific dress requirements for stand staff. These requirements had been breached in this instance.”
Kate Chambers, managing director of ICE London, explained the code of conduct was developed with the help of a cross-industry Diversity Working Group, “and we treat any breach with the utmost seriousness. There’s no doubt that a cultural shift has been required in our industry for some time, and the overwhelming majority is supportive of the importance of inclusion and diversity. I believe we’re seeing progress being made, but there’s no room for complacency, and we remain fully committed to providing a safe working environment for everyone across our events.”
Other businesses were not breaching the rules, the Independent added.
Another business — Interblock, which makes automated casino table games — highlighted its partnership with Playboy. A half dozen women were dressed as Playboy “bunnies.”
Other women workers were dressed as Bavarian barmaids, with low-cut necklines, the Daily Mail said. Some were wearing outfits resembling angels or mermaids, the Daily Mail added, and many had on miniskirts.
Conference attendees posed with many of the models who sported the revealing outfits, the Guardian reported.
This is far from the only year when sultry clothing worn by models and actors disturbed public officials and others. In 2018, then UK Gambling Commission CEO Sarah Harrison complained the trade show had “men representing their companies wearing expensive tailored suits whilst their female colleagues were expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits.”
That year, adult-themed entertainment included pole dancers and female hostesses. No such pole dancers were spotted this year in the show that is expected to attract over 35,000 attendees this week.
United Kingdom MP Says Clothing Was Archaic
In a statement to the Guardian, Labour MP Carolyn Harris complained this week that the suggestive outfits worn by women working at the show were “archaic and beyond disrespectful.
“Whilst these are overseas companies, the fact they are promoting their business at a UK conference is not acceptable,” Harris added.
Harris, who also serves in Parliament as the shadow minister for women and equalities, was quoted by the Daily Mail: “I am shocked and saddened to see women still being used as sex symbols to drive business by the men in suits throughout the gambling industry.
“This outdated marketing tactic feels sordid and irresponsible. This should not be happening in the UK,” Harris added.
Other concerns were voiced by Alan Smith, the Lord Bishop of St Albans.
Gambling firms are currently free to advertise their products and market their companies in a largely free way,” Smith was quoted by the Guardian. “With that freedom comes responsibility. Sexualized objectification, in any form, is totally unacceptable for any industry, particularly one that has been repeatedly warned about their marketing behavior.”
He also cautioned that “advertising and marketing by gambling firms is currently under scrutiny by policymakers and all options for finding solutions remain on the table.”
In 2018, the Gambling Commission, threatened to boycott the trade show. But the commission sponsored a stand at the show this year. Also, CEO Neil McArthur was a keynote speaker.
UK workers wearing such revealing clothes could run the risk of harassment or assault. In Nevada, recently updated regulations are designed to protect casino workers from sexual harassment, such as cocktail servers who may be dressed in skimpy outfits.