IGA Convention Celebrates Tribal Government Gaming Accomplishments

IGA Convention

The Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention, held April 19-22 in Anaheim, CA, included events and celebrations focused on the Indian gaming industry, its professionals, industry experts, tribal leadership, and gaming employees. The convention successfully drew more than 6,500 attendees, included record-breaking sponsorships and sales.

The Executive Board discussed an array of gaming and legislative issues and updates and organizational re-branding, including an organizational name change. The organization’s new name is now the Indian Gaming Association (IGA). IGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. Stevens said, “While we will continue to be the same prevalent organization working on behalf of our tribal government gaming industry, this change reflects both the evolution of the times and this organization’s vision for the future.”

On April 19, the Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention brought golfers to the Chairman’s tournament at the Tustin Ranch Golf Club and the Vice Chairman’s tournaments at the Strawberry Farms Golf Club.

On April 20, the membership heard two important panel discussions and a tribal leaders panel discussion entitled Sports Betting Across Indian Country, moderated by Jason Giles, Executive Director of the Indian Gaming Association, with panelists including Mark Macarro, Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Bernadine Burnette, President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Stephen Lewis, Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, Brandon Yellowbird Stevens, Vice-Chairman of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Rodney Butler, Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The agenda concluded with the Women in Leadership: Tribal Government Gaming panel, moderated by Danielle Her Many Horses, IGA Deputy Director, with panelists including Stephanie Bryan, Chairwoman of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Bernadine Burnette, President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai, Shannon Holsey, President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians and Fawn Sharp, Vice President of the Quinault Indian Nation, and President of the National Congress of American Indians.

The Indian Gaming Association held its annual elections for the Vice-Chairman and Treasurer positions. Vice-Chairman David Bean and Treasurer Andy Ebona sought re-election to their jobs. Tribal leaders re-elected Vice-Chairman David Bean and Treasurer Andy Ebona, who was unopposed, and successfully garnered unanimous support.

Faith Keeper of the Onondaga Nation and long-time leader of the Haudenosaunee lacrosse team, Oren Lyons, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chairman’s Leadership Luncheon. Former Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Chairman Anthony Pico was honored with the Rick Hill-Tim Wapato Sovereign Warrior Award at the evening’s cultural event.

On April 21, the tradeshow ribbon-cutting event was kicked off with an informal discussion between IGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., and American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller. Tribal leaders and guests joined in the official ribbon cutting, which ushered attendees onto the tradeshow floor.

At the Chairman’s lounge, the IGA honored Dominic Ortiz, CEO of the Potawatomi Hotel Casino; Twila True, Native American Entrepreneur; Chef Paul Wahlberg, Wahlburgers; and the United American Indian Involvement, a Los Angeles based urban Native organization. The IGA joined the IllumiNative to honor the cast and crew of Peacock’s “Rutherford Falls” comedy, which included Ed Helms, actor, comedian, writer, and producer; Sierra Teller Ornelas, screenwriter; and actor Tai LeClair. The IGA also honored Native American producer Bird Runningwater of Amazon Studios.

The convention concluded the following day at the Tribal Leaders lounge with closing remarks by Chairman Stevens and Indian Gaming Conference Chairman Victor Rocha, and recognition of Native artist Charles Decker.

“The success of this year’s event is because of our industry’s remarkable perseverance and resiliency,” said Chairman Stevens. “Over the past two years, we have shown our determination to come back strong. It was phenomenal to be together again because we have much to celebrate. We rolled up our sleeves addressing new challenges and opportunities, continuing our work to protect tribal sovereignty and strengthen Native communities.”

For more information about the Indian Gaming Association, visit www.indiangaming.org.