Another National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) tradeshow and convention is rapidly approaching, and I find myself trying to finalize arrangements and plans for the event, as I am sure many of you reading this column are as well.

This year, I will travel out to the conference earlier than in years past, for one very good reason—to attend as many educational sessions as I can before the tradeshow portion of NIGA commences on March 26. To me, the most significant change at NIGA over the past five years or so has been the steady growth of its educational content. Indeed, while some industry events have actually de-emphasized session activity, NIGA has expanded the breadth of its offering, this year hosting a two-day, 17-track seminar program with over 100 session topics. A list of session locations and times can be accessed at www.indiangamingtradeshow.com.

I think many of these sessions would be of value for slot department personnel. What follows are some session descriptions from the NIGA website, along with a reason or two as to why they should appeal to people who deal with slot machines for a living.

Session: Innovations in Class II Gaming
Description: Class II gaming has evolved. Do you have the best Class II product mix? Do you need better Class II product offerings? Do you understand the benefits of and how to best utilize Class II gaming in your operations? Come learn more about Class II gaming—a foundational asset/right of the tribes and a continued catalyst for helping support and promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments in the future.

Reason for attending: Hard to believe there was actually a time when multiple industry observers believed Class II gaming machines would completely fade away under the onslaught of supposedly much more popular and profitable Class III slots. Instead, Class II usage has surged and shows no sign of abating; so it’s a good move to stay atop of product trends and strategies in this segment of the slot marketplace.   


Session: The Future of Game Design
Description: In a world of endless technology and infinite distractions, will the slot machine remain the king of the casino? As new innovations continue to drive casino floor traffic and capture slot players, what is the future of the slot machine and how are game manufacturers and operators preparing for it? Join us for this exciting panel as we explore the future of game design and what that means for your gaming options.

Reason for attending: It’s no secret that the player base for land-based slot machines is trending older; what is worrisome is that younger generations seems exceedingly cool to the whole slot experience. Some believe this will change over time as these generations age, but it’s probably a good idea to see what some operators and game manufacturers are doing now to modernize the slot games, which will go a long way to sparking gaming machine interest among the young. 

 
Session: Preparing for the Cashless Society
Description: Cash is becoming passé. The rise of mobile payments and “digital wallets” are rapidly changing the habits of consumers. But what does this mean for the tribal gaming industry? Is this the latest disruption or an opportunity? Join us as our panel of experts discuss P2P, cryptocurrency, blockchain and the effects of a cashless society on tribal gaming.

Reason for attending: Really, it is only a matter of time before the slot floor is completely cashless. Might as well see what this will entail.
This is only a small sample of the informative sessions available for NIGA attendees. I hope I see you there.