Indian Gaming Association trade show returns to Anaheim April 8-11

February 15, 2024 6:41 PM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
February 15, 2024 6:41 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Europe
  • United States

The Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow & Convention returns to the Anaheim Convention Center April 8-11.

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The gathering of tribal leaders and commercial gaming is expected to attract more than 300 exhibitors and organizers hope to surpass the record attendance of 9,000 at the 2023 show in San Diego. The 2022 show in Anaheim, impacted by the pandemic, had 6,500 attendees.

This year’s program will focus on the business dynamics of tribal gaming. Sessions will include information on efficiencies in operations, new-revenue generators, smarter expansion, and the adoption of new technologies, according to conference chairman Victor Rocha.

“There’s a positive feeling coming into the conference,” Rocha said. “We’re looking at Minnesota to see what’s happening with sports betting and in California, tribes are discussing when we will have sports betting here without the distractions.”

Conference tracks will center on casino and gaming operations, interactive wagering, regulation and compliance, marketing and player development, technology and innovation, emerging trends, economic impact and development, legal and tribal sovereignty, security and surveillance, and sports betting and igaming that continue to grow among tribes. The sessions and speakers will be announced by the end of February, Rocha said Thursday.

On opening day, April 8, the conference will feature a deep dive into what artificial intelligence means for the next generation of gaming, which Rocha called a game changer. There’s a lot of interest in AI’s use for security, table games, entertainment, and human resources.

“There’s a real desire by the industry to talk about artificial intelligence and anything to do with sports betting or interactive wagering and online gaming, mobile, and Class II online,” Rocha said. “It seems like everybody is really looking at the future of gaming and what’s coming next.”

Sports betting and igaming will be singled out at IGA’s first-ever Digital Play Summit on the floor during the tradeshow on April 10 and 11. It will have its own dedicated section featuring booths and education sessions. “There will be more of an emphasis on working with the European companies,” Rocha said of this year’s show. “We see this as a doorway for the European companies working with the tribes.”

Tribes have attended the ICE London trade show for the last decade to see the potential of the gaming industry beyond the U.S. market, Rocha said. The Digital Play Summit is a way to bring “a little ICE” to the IGA show.

“EU providers have really understood the draw and need to participate and want to partner in tribal gaming,” said Leah Steinhardt, gaming-portfolio director for Clarion Events, which partners with IGA in speaking to Rocha on his “New Normal” webinar on Wednesday. “Ten years ago, that wouldn’t have been a conversation to be had. They didn’t understand the effort. People are finally getting it. We want to join those two communities. We want a little bit of that international flair in Anaheim in April.”

Rocha said he and IGA Chairman Ernie Stevens have spent the last 10 years traveling around Europe, talking with the heads of European gaming companies that had no foothold in the American market.

“They’re always curious to learn about the American market and this is one more step for the tribes on the international market,” Rocha said. “It goes both ways, because the tribes are curious about the products.”

Brian Sullivan, vice president of gaming for Clarion Gaming Group, told Rocha that the digital revolution has started and the gaming industry is still catching up with it. Some tribes have gone down that route, with some trials and tribulations. Tribes that want to follow them can learn the positives and negatives at the show, he said.

“The tribes in Maine just started doing online mobile and for tribes new to the industry, this is an important place to learn new skills and have a better understanding of the industry we’re going into,” Rocha said.

Sullivan pointed out that interest in tribes has grown over the years at ICE. Rocha has hosted sessions with tribal leaders and have gone from 10 people in the past to filling up the room at this year’s ICE conference.

Rocha said California tribes defeating commercial gaming interests’ ballot measures in 2022 to get a piece of the sports-betting industry “was a victory heard around the world” and if executives with international companies weren’t curious then, they’re curious now.

“A lot of Europeans were there, but I saw Asians in the room as well,” Sullivan said. “Victor and Chairman Stevens are providing great information on how folks in other parts of the world can start working in Indian country. The Digital Play Summit will augment that. Working with the tribes is bigger than trying to shoehorn in on the Strip.”

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