Gaming America at IGA: A day at the exhibit hall

April 11, 2024
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Everything from product demos to 'Chiefachu,' Wednesday was a busy one at IGA.

The Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention has already been popping for the last couple of days in Anaheim, California, but the exhibit hall opened Wednesday, showing attendees a dazzling array of new slot and table games as well as plenty of Native American jewelry.

For those unfamiliar with the Indian Gaming Association conference, its exhibit hall looks like any other gaming show – flashing slot machines, towering screens, booths hawking casino furniture, security systems and poker chips – but of course with a distinctive Native American twist.

Just down the row from a big slot machine manufacturer, you can spot tables selling intricate, handmade jewelry of sterling silver and turquoise, which are popular with conference attendees. In fact, National Indian Gaming Commission Vice Chairwoman Jeannie Hovland told Gaming America after a morning interview discussing the state of Tribal gaming in the US that she was eager to shop.

One vendor sold t-shirts that took familiar fantasy characters but gave them a Native American spin. One portrayed animated character Pikachu as “Chiefachu” while another depicted Grogu, the “Baby Yoda” character from the Disney+ Star Wars shows The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett in an Indian headdress or feathered war bonnet.

But, of course, the main attraction for many was the slot manufacturers – and they didn’t disappoint. Kurt Gissane, Aristocrat Gaming's CRO, demoed the manufacturer’s new version of its iconic Jackpot Carnival Extreme title while Chris Mason, the Director of Product Management for Play AGS, showed off a new game, Knock Knock Guardians Queen, in which two Egyptian cats, a white one named Nimbus and a black one named Nix, grant players access to bonuses.

Dustin Fasbender, Director VLT Development for Ainsworth Game Technology showed off the company’s already released San Bao Pandas and San Bao Dragons titles, as well as its forthcoming San Bao Tigers and San Bao Rabbits titles, each with adorable Asian-themed characters.

Domenico Pastia, Global SVP Premium, Core & Specialty Product at IGT, kept with the Asian theme, unveiling its new title Tiger and Dragon, which he said boasted unique what-you-see, what-you-get mechanics in addition to stylish animation.

Meanwhile, in lounges dotting the area attendees listened to panels on an array of topics, from the role of AI in casino operations to proactive approaches to tackling cybersecurity.

In one particularly special panel Kari McCormick, Director of Client Services at the Wenaha Group, lawyer Pilar Thomas of Quales & Brady LLP and Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, President of Known, discussed the opportunities Native American Tribes have to diversify their investments beyond gaming into renewal energy.

The trio discussed potential investments in solar and wind, but spent time talking at some length about sustainable airline fuel, a renewal resource that Tribes can receive tax credits for owning and that only takes 4 to 10 acres of land to generate.

Said Red-Horse Mohl: “I do think you’re sitting on a very unique opportunity right now.”


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