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The Indian Gaming Tradeshow And Convention drew to a close after several days of celebrations, events, and seminars. The event took place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, opening with the Board of Directors Meeting on April 7 and concluding on April 11.

During the event, tribal leadership met with industry experts and gaming employees to discuss tribal matters and how they relate to Indian gaming. One of the highlights of this year’s event was the DigitalPlay Summit showcasing some of the latest digital gaming innovations. This is the first year the Digital Trade Summit has been run and featured a Consumer Protection Zone showcasing systems to help encourage safer gambling. 

Certain states have laws in place aimed at ensuring safe gambling. While gambling is legal in a lot of states, it is completely prohibited in Utah and Hawaii. And while physical gambling is legal in all other states, online gambling is still playing catch up. Alabama, Alaska, California, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont prohibit online gambling. However, online gambling laws can be a gray area, so many bettors opt to visit offshore or crypto sites to play games like Bitcoin baccarat or online roulette. Where online gambling is legal, crypto casinos are a relatively new innovation, offering a degree of anonymity and additional security for online gamers. And this is one area where tribal gambling initiatives aim to further progress. 

During a full day of sessions, sponsored by The Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers and the University of Phoenix, attendees discussed Class II gaming in detail. Class II gaming includes bingo games and non-banked card games where players compete with one another, rather than the house. Tribal governments oversee the regulation of these games, without the need to seek state-level agreement for the offering and playing of these games. The funds from Class II gaming are used directly by tribal governments to improve the welfare of its citizens, making it an important source of funding.

On April 8, The Chairman’s Golf Classic was played at Tustin Ranch Golf Club and funds were raised for the Native Forward Scholars Fund which aims to improve the education of American Indians and Native Alaskans. The program offers scholarships for higher education courses and was fully sold out again this year. 

The IGA membership meeting included a keynote speech from Lt. Governor of Minnesota, Peggy Flanagan who espoused the benefits of collaboration between Native American tribes and local governments. She also discussed how important Native American votes would be in the next election.

The event also saw stalls selling tribal and native American products, as well as celebrations of Indian ways of life.

Tribal gaming revenues generated more than $40 billion in revenue in 2022, which represents an impressive 18% increase compared to 2019. This represents around half of the total revenue of all U.S. gambling and gaming, meaning it represents a significant share of the market. In recent years, the Supreme Court also overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which means tribes across 16 states can also participate in regulated sports betting. The sovereignty of reservations and tribal lands means that, since the inception of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (1988), states have had very little influence over the regulation of gaming on these lands. There are now believed to be around 500 gambling locations that are run by more than 240 tribes.

Gambling is one of the most important industries to the Native American community, and the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention is the largest convention that celebrates and aims to expand this industry. In its 37th year, IGA 2024 is the longest-running tradeshow in the gaming industry. The convention moves between Anaheim, Las Vegas, and San Diego.

It is significant that the event is held in Anaheim, California, as the state is one of Indian gaming’s most profitable regions. Sacramento, a few hundred miles up the coast from Anaheim, generates an annual revenue of nearly $12 billion from 87 gambling operations. The main event lasted more than four days, including the golf tournament, and welcomed around 50,000 visitors. While previous conventions have concentrated almost solely on the casino industry, the addition of the DigitalPlay Summit saw many more professionals and leaders from the iGaming and sportsbook sectors: a trend that is likely to continue in the coming years.

The Indian Gaming Tradeshow And Convention is the largest of its type. It celebrates tribal gaming initiatives while bringing together leaders, politicians, and industry professionals. The industry has faced considerable challenges in the last few years, but its move into sportsbook betting and the online gaming sector means that it continues to grow and continue to provide for native tribes.