The Washington Indian Gaming Association was held at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Washington. The convention was composed of various organizations, vendors, and professionals within the gaming industry. These groups came together to share ideas, past experiences, and stories of success.
Our team greatly enjoyed hitting the road again to make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and share the trends we are seeing across Indian Gaming right now. Downstairs in the Event Center, the sights and sounds of new slot games welcomed everyone to the trade show floor. Local vendors and professionals all came together to discuss their latest ventures and consult with each other on the best next steps.
Ron Allen, Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the WIGA Executive Committee, welcomed everyone to WIGA on Monday night. He gave out thanks to the Squaxin Island Tribe for hosting this year’s event and acknowledged everyone for their hard work over the past year as we dealt with the difficulties of Covid.
A popular session every year is the General Managers roundtable discussion. Our own Justin Shank was called on by the speakers to give his perspective on marketing during the last year. Justin told the group that now more than ever people have more questions and are requiring more engagement. The casino’s average age has dropped nearly ten years, so with that has also come a new group of people who need to be marketed to differently, with different media and using different technology. Justin continued, explaining that now more than ever people are turning to digital advertising.
Sports betting was also a main topic of this year’s conference with tribes discussing various options for implementation and operation based on various technologies, their unique geographies, and how it might best support the other amenities and offerings that they already had in their facilities. Operators also shared their plans for the next year as they try to become fully staffed again while still showing their appreciation and respect for their longtime employees.
Justin was also invited to speak in a panel during a marketing breakout session titled Marketing: How to Create Excitement in a Sensitive Market. He was joined by Tom Teesdale, Vice President of Marketing at Ilani Resort, Eric Larsen, Director of Marketing at Silver Reef Casino Resort, and moderating the panel was Ashley Manchester, Co-Interim Marketing Director at Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort. This group of professionals shared an important piece of advice, “Don’t be afraid to try new things.”
The Wednesday sessions were highlighted by a panel made up of some of the Washington area’s most successful women sharing stories of how they came to be the accomplished people that they are today. These women spoke of how important it is to not only have a mentor but to also act as a mentor. Other panels focused on the entertainment industry and the changes they have seen over the last year. These professionals shared their successes and their struggles as Covid has interfered with the profession so heavily. From musicians canceling acts, to booking meet and greets, and event setup these experts covered it all.
We had such a great time getting to see our clients and sharing knowledge with one another. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again soon!