IGA conference: An 'AI party' and sports betting's 'spectacular failure' in California

April 10, 2024
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FanDuel executives featured prominently, during an intensive day of conference panels and education sessions.

The Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention is off and running in Anaheim, California and the discussions in the sessions so far have been squarely focused on the future, with Gaming America in attendance.

The show, put on by the Indian Gaming Association, opened Monday with a quartet of sessions on artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential impacts on gaming.

Speaking on the “Legal and Regulatory Considerations of AI,” Edward Sequoyah Simermeyer, former National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman and new FanDuel VP, said the forthcoming widespread adoption of AI gives Tribes the opportunity to flex their muscles as regulators, to show the world they can be innovators and leaders in the arena of oversight.

Simermeyer added, “There are a lot of positive lessons that can come from that.”

Amit Sharma of the BMM Innovation Group in Las Vegas warned, however, in his session on “Data Security and Private in AI-Enabled Casinos” that operators need to be careful about how they handle the information they store and what they use AI for.

Said Sharma, “One of my buddies likes to say we’re all going to an AI party. When you go to a party, you have to be vigilant about where you put your drink or what kind of things you’re going to get involved in. It’s the same with AI."

In a panel on early Tuesday entitled “The Future of Gaming, What’s Next?” Joseph Bunevith, VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Gaming Laboratories International, reminded attendees that while AI seems to be new and different, we’ve all been using it as long as we’ve used spell checkers on word-processing programs.

A FanDuel location ready for action.

Said Bunevith, “Everybody’s been using AI for a long time. We’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time.”

That panel, which encompassed more than just AI but also cashless casinos, cybersecurity, iGaming and sports betting, explored how quickly the gaming business is changing for everyone, particularly operators and regulators. Much of the discussion centered on the ways in which technology can be leveraged to personalize the gaming experience for each individual player.

But perhaps the most newsworthy session – so far at least – was the Tuesday morning panel, “Balancing Act: Tribal Sovereignty in the New Frontier of Sports Wagering,” in which FanDuel CEO Amy Howe admitted efforts to legalize sports betting in California in 2022 were a “spectacular failure;” understandably, she expressed a desire to work with California Tribes in sports betting to the Golden State.

James Siva, Vice Chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, also spoke on the panel and made clear what sovereignty means to California’s 70-plus gaming Tribes.

He explained, “Get out of our way. We know what we’re doing. This is our industry. We know the path.” Applause rang out as soon as Siva uttered those words.

“Well said, Chairman,” replied moderator Jacob Meija.

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