OIGA Preview: ‘The Biggest Little Show’ returns

July 25, 2023
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Gaming America looks ahead to the 2023 edition of The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Conference and Trade Show.

The OIGA Conference and Trade Show will take place on August 14-16 at Tulsa’s Cox Business Centre. The trade show will consist of nearly 3,000 vendors and will kick off with the popular annual golf tournament before the conference and trade show begin the following day.

This conference and trade show will begin with a keynote speech on the “Power of Can.” This will be followed by various speeches and roundtables, with talks on responsible gambling, industry emerging leaders and the history of gaming in Oklahoma.

In anticipation of the show, Gaming America spoke to OIGA Chairman Matthew Morgan, with the Tribal executive giving us a preview on this year’s agenda. 

What can we expect from this year’s show?

The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association's Conference and Trade Show is something I think a lot of people look forward to. While we’re a regional association, you would never know it when you come to our trade show.

We have both domestic and international partners that come into the show to display products. We have a great educational aspect, covering not only traditional class two and class three gaming, but we’re also looking towards the future.

You’ll see iGaming, sports betting and other topics that Tribal Governments deal with, financial issues, hotel resorts, amenities etc. It will include all kinds of things, like: What are you doing at your golf course? What are you doing with your entertainment venues?

It’s a wide gamut. We like to traditionally say that we are the 'biggest little show' in Indian country because we’re right there behind G2E and the Indian Gaming Association, in terms of both attendance and trade show space.

Everybody tends to have a great time. It’s a place to come where you feel like family, but it’s also a great learning experience for everyone to have.

How does this year’s show differ from previous years? 

One of the things that you’re seeing more of this year is an international aspect of folks coming in, especially from Europe, on things that are going on and looking at Oklahoma, where we’re traditionally an electronic games jurisdiction.

But we’re one of the few jurisdictions in the US that haven’t turned our attention fully to what the sports betting or iGaming landscape looks like. We’re right in those formative stages. This year, we’re two years past Covid-19 and so we’re getting a lot of people back.

Not only to our show, but a lot of the suppliers are now in a better position to offer their products to our partners and  to our members, and I think everybody’s looking forward to that as well. 

Traditionally, this show took place in July, but it has taken place in August for the last few years. Is that a permanent move?

No, it’s not permanent. That change in date was due to Covid and the time to be able to get into these places. Because we’re just so big, there are only two locations that can accommodate us in Oklahoma.

One’s in Tulsa and one’s in Oklahoma City. So, we had to adapt to what they had open in a post-Covid August timeframe. Next year, we will be getting back to our regular July timeframe, and I think a lot of people are looking forward to that as well. 

What are the session topics and agenda for the show?

We’ll have topics in there for folks that want to come in and learn about the history of gaming in Oklahoma. What’s popular now? What’s coming? Some of the ancillary amenities that have to do with entertainment, as well as some of the things that just affect Tribal Governments.

Whether you’re talking about customer service, becoming a better host, adding new technologies to your floor or looking around at what your competitors are doing or what they’re doing here in the US or in Europe. We’ll have everything there for folks to see both on the educational side of it and on the trade show side. I think there’s a little bit for everyone.  

Traditionally, we always kick off the conference trade show with the John Marley Golf Scholarship. We provide scholarships to not only dependents of those people who work in our industry in Oklahoma, but we also offer scholarships to those that are continuing their education and work in our scholarship.

On the first day, the John Marley Golf Tournament has a great turnout from everybody. It’s very well supported. Everybody always has a great time there.

That evening, we’ll have a welcome kick-off party at Kane’s historic ballroom in Tulsa. We got away from that for the last couple of years, but we’re going back to that.

We’ll have our poker tournament there as well and a blackjack tournament. So, lots of activities to start. The next day we’ll kick off bright and early with some of our educational sessions; we’ll highlight some folks. That afternoon we’ll finally open the trade show floor.

Everybody’s excited to see that again – I include myself in that. That’s always something where you can cut that ribbon, open the doors and see that floor.  

We always have a great turnout. Our partners from California and Washington always come down and see us, as we attend their shows. We’ll have members of the executive team from the Indian Gaming Association in Washington DC come down. There’s always a couple of members of the American Gaming Association that come down and join us too. While we’re competitors across our local properties, the associations and trade show groups really work hand in glove to make sure we support each other and that we continue to move our industry forward. 

The state representative business entry is ‘Made in Oklahoma’ and has been for five years in a row. Is that going to continue this year? 

We’re going to continue to work with the Made in Oklahoma Group. They’re a fabulous group. We have a lot of products we like to highlight. A lot of our members use those products in their operations anyway, so it just makes sense to have those guys at the show, but we always like to highlight local providers.

We have a lot of rural areas, so we have a lot of unique products that are very local from those rural areas. Our individual properties love to partner with those folks to showcase their products and make sure the community grows together.

You mentioned introducing iGaming into the trade show. How else would you say the trade show has changed over time and how will it continue to evolve? 

I don’t think that will ever be an issue in Oklahoma. We have 35 of our Tribes operating gaming facilities in this state. Out of 38 federally recognized tribes we have over 130 facilities within Oklahoma. We have a lot of regional competitors. When we first got started with our show it was class two bingo only.

It was a much smaller floor very focused on those products. As we’ve added products and different forms of gaming to the selection, we continue to grow from that aspect. Oklahoma’s market has very seasoned and sophisticated players.

They know what’s in the market. They know what they want to see. They’re continually talking to our members about offerings. We’ve always been a leader in the gaming industry, making sure we have the best and newest products on the floor.

To me, it only makes sense we turn our attention to iGaming and see what that realm may hold. When it comes, it’s always up to the policyholders. But, from an operator and regulatory standpoint, we can always start preparing and seeing what’s coming down the pipe, and making sure we’re prepared.

 

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