Phoenix, AZ – October 25, 2017 – The Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA) wrapped up a successful 2017 AIGA Expo today at the We-Ko-Pa Resort and Conference Center on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation near Scottsdale, Arizona. The event ran from October 22 – 24, 2017.
The more than 350 attendees included tribal leadership from not only Arizona but throughout Indian country, as well as tribal gaming and industry representatives and experts to celebrate the success of tribal government gaming in Arizona, and to recognize the growth and potentials of the Indian gaming industry. The conference theme, “Planting the Seeds of Prosperity” resonated throughout the three-day event where attendees acknowledged not only the history of tribal gaming but of those who have paved the path of prosperity for the next generation.
Judy Ferreira, AIGA Executive Director, said, “The 2017 AIGA Expo was a tremendous success. We thank the Arizona Tribal leadership and AIGA partners who joined to help us bring to the stage an outstanding event.”
The AIGA Expo kicked off with the Desert Classic golf tournament and luncheon at the We-Ko-Pa Golf club which was followed by the official kick-off of the 2017 gaming event, the AIGA Expo Welcome Reception on Sunday, October 22.
AIGA Tribal leadership also conducted their annual meeting, where they elected Ak-Chin Indian Community Council Member Delia Carlyle as the new AIGA Chairperson and Pascua Yaqui Tribal Councilman Francisco Valencia was elected as the new AIGA Treasurer. Both leaders will serve a two year term.
“My sincere thanks to all who helped make the 2017 AIGA Expo a success,” says Carlyle. “I look forward to working together in promoting and protecting the integrity of Indian Gaming.”
During the opening session, on Monday, October 22, former AIGA Chairperson and President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Bernadine Burnette provided the welcome address. Attendees also heard national updates from National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Vice Chairperson Kathryn Isom-Clause and National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Acting Vice-Chairman David Bean.
The three-day expo presented a vast selection of workshops sessions and discussion forums, including the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming – Executive Training Program, which was presented by Marcus Diaz, Director of Organizational Development at Casino Del Sol Resort and Conference Center in Tucson, Arizona. The focus, “Tribal Gaming – The future of learning,” explored potential opportunities for the tribal gaming industry and highlighted recent trends and findings, furthering the advancement of tribal gaming professionals.
The tracks included an array of topics covering a number critical aspect related to the tribal gaming industry, including discussion on Economic Development and diversification, Regulatory related issues, Public Affairs Industry perspectives and Sports Betting. The workshop tracks concluded with a tribal leader’s forum, where leaders assembled to reflect on the progress of tribes, made possible by Tribal gaming and provided ideas on how to plant the seed of prosperity for the generations to come. This featured session was moderated by Maria Dadgar, Executive Director of the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona and panelists included Bernadine Burnette, President of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Shan Lewis, Vice-Chairman of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and Terry Rambler, Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.
Tribal leaders and attendees gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, opening the tradeshow floor, sponsored by the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Close to 50 gaming, tribal organizations, enterprises and tribal business-related vendor booths were featured on the tradeshow floor.
The 2017 Chef’s Challenge, which celebrates the best of Arizona’s Casino dining, was hosted by the Desert Diamond Casinos at the La Puesta del Sol, an enterprise of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, featured seven tribal enterprise chefs in a cuisine competition on Monday, October 23. The Fort McDowell Destination Culinary Team, led by Chef Alan Thompson, won the People’s Choice Award while Harrah’s Ak-Chin Chef Colin Ribble was honored as the Top Chef’s Challenge Champion, by the official judges of the competition.
On Tuesday, October 24, the 2017 AIGA Expo concluded with the Gathering Luncheon, which was presented by We-Ko-Pa Resort & Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri presented the keynote address. Tony Duncan Productions provided the special entertainment to close out the Expo.
AIGA Expo sponsors included the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, Desert Diamond Casinos, Casino Del Sol Resort, Hensley Beverage Company, Bank of America, Yavapai-Apache Nation, BMM Test Labs, North American Video, Ainsworth Gaming Technology, IGT , Apache Gold, Denver Mattress, Bank of Arizona, VGT, Viz Explorer, Atrient, Wells Fargo, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, the Arizona Office of Tourism, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), TFA Capital Partners, National Food Group, KlasRobinson QED, Everi, Konami Gaming, and Kitchell Contractors.
Arizona Indian Gaming Association represents 15 tribes representing Indian people living on reservations in Arizona. AIGA was established in November 21, 1994, by the Arizona tribal leaders. The association protects, promotes and maintains the welfare of sovereign tribes striving for self-reliance by supporting Tribal Gaming in Arizona and Indian Country.
Arizona Indian Gaming Association represents 15 tribes representing Indian people living on reservations in Arizona. While four tribes are located near urban areas, most tribal lands are located in remote areas of Arizona.