July 5, 2021 Land-Based, Conference

We Meet Again

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With the return of in-person shows on the horizon, Sheila Morago, executive director at the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) details the excitement along with measures put in place to ensure they’re back for good.

As the world begins to get back to its new normal, OIGA, like many organizations, is thrilled to plan for our 2021 Conference and Trade Show, which will be held at Oklahoma City’s beautiful new Omni Hotel and OKC Convention Center from August 16 to 18.

Our dates are a little bit later this year, a modification our leadership made months ago to allow plenty of time for as many attendees as possible to receive vaccinations. OIGA is dedicated first and foremost to the wellbeing, safety and prosperity of our members, vendors and attendees. While hosting a July event was possible, it was our feeling that by moving into August, we’d be able to provide a much safer event for everyone.

OIGA has diligently followed and implemented recommendations from the CDC and state authorities throughout the planning process. Modifications implemented include keeping all OIGA events within the host hotel and convention center, removing the morning welcome session with its theater-style seating and opting to present OIGA’s Annual Awards from the stage on the Trade Show floor rather than at our usual luncheon.

If we could choose one word to sum up our past two years, that word would be flexibility. Our highest priority is always the safety of our leadership, volunteers, exhibitors, attendees and staff, and it was with heavy hearts and an abundance of caution that we cancelled our 2020 event. As it turned out, the world entered a period of lockdown around the same time, and we all know the rest of that story.

Another word we’ve embodied is innovation. The ability to gather remotely via Zoom and other video technologies this past year and a half has enabled us to view geography as far less of an obstacle than we did before now. Conducting business remotely and face-to-face was made possible by new technology, accelerated by necessity.

The energy and synergy we can create with colleagues from around the world now feels limitless. We can beam people in from anywhere, and this ability has been an unexpected blessing. OIGA has participated in conferences hosted around the world, including in the UK, Spain and South Africa. While we much prefer to gather in person, we can now also harness technology to create virtual or hybrid gatherings, which we never could have imagined two years ago.

As thankful as we are for technology, we are incredibly excited to be back in person, and look forward to seeing friends and colleagues who are more like family. If you have never attended the OIGA Trade Show, you are in for a treat. It is a lively, fun, informative, high-energy assembly of some of the biggest names in the gaming and hospitality industries, and it will draw nearly 2,500 vendors, visitors and guest speakers to downtown Oklahoma City to celebrate and advance our industry.

Oklahoma is home to  the third largest gaming market in the United States with more than 80,000 electronic machines on the floors of our over 130 operations. The OIGA Conference and Trade Show has always been the largest regional show in the country and we’re looking forward to hitting that mark again.

The 2021 host hotel is the beautiful new Omni Oklahoma City, across from the 30-acre Scissortail Park. Oklahoma City, with its central location, is drivable for many and we’ve kept registration fees affordable. 

We’ll get an early start Monday, August 16, with OIGA’s John Marley Golf Tournament, the proceeds from which have funded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships for students since its inception. The tournament’s namesake was instrumental to the founding of OIGA and is an ardent advocate for education. The welcome reception and poker and blackjack tournaments will be held later that evening as well.

Tuesday morning will be dedicated to conference sessions. The Trade Show floor will open earlier than usual that day for maximum networking, and instead of the formal luncheon, OIGA’s Annual Awards will be presented on the Trade Show floor stage, with a more casual meal. Then Wednesday will be filled with more sessions and fun. Since we couldn’t meet in 2020, make sure you don’t miss out this year.

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