There was a time when the annual National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) tradeshow largely eschewed conference content. It is safe to say that the switch has defiantly flipped in this regard, as evidenced by the plethora of interesting topics covered in the conference tracks at NIGA 2019, which took place last month in San Diego. Here’s what speakers had to say in some of these sessions:

Chris Grove, managing director, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, on the potential of sports wagering: “Despite all the hype, I feel that sports betting has been undersold as an opportunity. A lot of time you will hear operators talking about sports betting as an amenity, as if you are adding an extra couple of restaurants in a food court or something along those lines. But the reality is that, even at this nascent stage, sports betting will top $1 billion in topline revenue in 2019, and is heading toward $5 to $6 billion annual run rate by 2020, in terms of total revenue in the U.S. market. The perception that sports betting is a minor opportunity is due to the relatively small role it plays in overall casino revenue in Las Vegas, where it is only 2-3 percent annually. But if you look to international jurisdictions, you’ll find that sports betting typically makes up a third or more of total annual revenue in places like the U.K. Even in New Jersey, with a total market of about $2.4 billion, sports betting is quickly on pace to make up about 15-20 percent of that state’s total gambling revenue.”

Sheila Morongo, executive director, Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA), on sports betting expansion issues in Indian Country: “In Oklahoma, we are touting sports betting as more of an amenity… that is probably not fair, but we need to tone down the expectations of the state legislature. They think it is going to save their budget--and the state is always in a budget crisis—so they want to make sure they bring it in since they want more money off of it. We have 143 tribal gaming operations in Oklahoma, everything from WinStar which has the largest gaming floor in the world to a convenience store with 15 machines, and not everyone is going to be able to do a sportsbook. So we have to be pretty realistic on how that works.”

John James, COO, Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, on getting more out of the players club: “You would be surprised at how much of the data involving you’re players club is somewhat corrupt and inaccurate. You have to scrub it constantly, not quarterly, monthly or week-to-week, but day-to-day, so you know who you are really talking to. Because if you do not know who you are talking to, you really don’t know your players true propensities for the types of games they like and what experiences they like to receive when they’re on property.”      

Conrad Granito, general manager, Muckleshoot Casino, on the hidden value of player data: “You can use player data to form potential partnerships with other entities. For example, we all get approached to sponsor certain events or pay for naming rights for a new sports arena, etc., and these people often just want you to write them a big check. Instead of paying that, I tell them what I can bring to the table in terms of data on the 40,000-50,000 people that visit my facility on a daily basis, and ask them what that data and marketing reach is worth to them. Don’t underestimate the value of your player data.”

Here’s hoping future editions of NIGA are equally informative.