Indian Gaming Association to host mid-year conference at Foxwoods

August 15, 2023 8:36 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
August 15, 2023 8:36 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

The Indian Gaming Association will host its Mid-Year Conference & Expo September 12-14 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. 

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The Mid-Year Expo is a smaller version of the IGA’s annual conference and tradeshow that was held in March in San Diego. The Expo is a more intimate event that caters to tribal leaders, with about 300 people expected to attend.

“The very heart of the Mid-Year Conference is the Indian Gaming Association getting together with tribal leadership and talking politics and policy,” said Victor Rocha, the conference chairman. “In this condensed format, it’s in a lot of ways more powerful, because a lot of tribal leaders show up to talk tribal business. This is where you come to make your relationships and friendships, because tribal leaders are a lot more accessible.”

Rocha said much of the conference will be focused on Foxwoods and how the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut has transformed the tribal-gaming industry.

There’s a session on maintaining a strong presence in the gaming industry in the face of a changing market and emerging challenges. Another session tackles tribes building strong business relationships. Foxwoods executives offer insights and practical advice for vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders looking to establish or strengthen their business relationships with Foxwoods and other tribal casinos.

During the conference, Rocha will moderate a panel discussion on thriving in a changing landscape that features IGA chairman Ernie Stevens; Rodney Butler, chairman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation; and Jason Guyot, president and CEO of Foxwoods.

Executives from Foxwoods and its entity Wondr Nation will discuss the challenges and opportunities in gaming and look at Foxwoods’s approach to the business of interactive gambling. They will provide insights and best practices for those interested in expanding their gaming operations or entering the online-gambling and sports- betting markets.

“I decided to use Foxwoods as an example of how tribes are going to survive in the 21st century,” Rocha said. “There’s no better example than Foxwoods. They had the market all to themselves and now, all of a sudden, they’re in one of the most competitive marketplaces in the United States. There’s Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and talk of casinos in New York proper. For me, it’s about how they’re doing it. A lot of tribes are having to face a more competitive landscape with sports betting and expansion of commercial gaming.”

There are several other sessions for the gaming industry during the three-day conference.

One is on reinventing the casino experience to attract the next generation of gamers. Valuable insights can be drawn from innovative casino experiences, targeted marketing strategies, and inclusive environments that appeal to this demographic, Rocha said. The team from Foxwoods will discuss their experiences and provide insights on how they engage and retain younger audiences. It will be moderated by Jason Guyot.

Casino consultant Brendan Bussmann will lead a discussion that will explore the growing trend of utilizing entrepreneurship to spur innovation and promote economic growth, starting with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe creating Wondr Nation, an online-gaming company. The leadership of Wondr Nation will discuss the potential opportunities and obstacles tribes might face in their entrepreneurial ventures and outline strategies to overcome these challenges, Rocha said.

Casino consultant Gene Johnson will moderate a panel on how to effectively use the strength of a franchise brand to gain an edge in the casino environment. Topics will include understanding the dynamics of casino patrons, creating brand synergy, and utilizing marketing strategies to make the most of a franchise’s reputation.

Jason Giles, executive director of the IGA, will moderate a panel discussion on the federal appeals court ruling that reinstated an agreement between the Seminole Tribe and state of Florida. That reinstatement has the potential to transform Florida’s gaming landscape, Rocha said. The panel will also discuss possible ripple effects of the ruling on other tribes and discuss potential future legal challenges.

Other sessions include understanding tribal sovereignty and culture; navigating tribal regulations and procurement; customized solutions for tribal casinos; sports betting at tribal casinos; marketing strategies to attract and retain customers in both tribal and commercial casinos; and online gaming as part of a strategy to diversify a digital strategy with sports betting, casino games, and poker, in addition to social gaming and fantasy sports.

For more information and to register, go to the website.