Industry Leaders Come Together to Discuss Sports Betting at Mid-Year Conference & Expo 

The look toward the future will feature sessions on the business opportunities for tribes and operations


Washington D.C. (September 6, 2018) As the National Indian Gaming Association prepares for the largest Mid-Year Conference & Expo to date, the focus is on the future of Indian Gaming and the strategies that tribes and casinos will need to forge success in a changing gaming landscape. The annual event, which takes place September 25-27 at the Pechanga Resort Casino this year, will be one of the first to offer an entire conference program centered around gaming’s hottest topic – sports betting – as well as present a full lineup of featured tribal leaders, owners, manufacturers, regulators and more to discuss the business, politics and opportunities of this unknown territory. 

“Sports betting presents a potential $17 billion new market and the National Indian Gaming Association is proud to be one of the first events to offer its members a deeper look at the opportunities it presents. While the sessions this week will provide insights, questions to think about, and next steps for tribes, we always have a central focus of providing resources for operations as they support their communities and Indian Country,” commented National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. He continued, “With that in mind, we are excited to have such a fantastic group of speakers joining us who will present their experiences, perspectives and ideas with the community to help us make decisions for the future.”

The 2018 program will take place across the week and will topics will be centralized for each day. Conference chairman Victor Rocha, editor of and president of Victor Strategies, has assembled a diverse program that will cover mobile gaming, regulation, big data and analytics, sports books, tribal exclusivity, new technology, and the road ahead.

Operators, manufacturers, legislators and more will discuss how sports betting and the innovative new technologies that come with it can drive new audiences and new business for tribal casinos in the following sessions. 

“Big Data: Analytics in Sports Betting & Gaming” will be moderated by Solange Jacobs Randolph, senior director, marketing & communications at VizExplorer and feature panelists Stuart Kerr, chief data scientist, Pechanga Resort Casino; Dr. Laila Mintas, deputy president, Sportradar U.S.; Chris Dougan, CCO, Genius Sports; and Stasi Buran, PhD, COO, nQube Data Science, Inc to discuss how new data sources and technology platforms will influence this new market as well as the value of data to understand and engage the large and growing segment of avid sports fans willing to wager on sports. 

Moderator Frank Pracukowski, director, iGaming Capital will lead a panel featuring Melissa Blau, director, iGaming Capital; Charles Cohen, vice president, IGT; Daniel Kustelski, CEO and co-founder, Chalkline Sports; Brett Calapp, chief social gaming officer, Pala Interactive; and Richard Carter, CEO, SBTech, that discusses the pros and cons of mobile gambling during “Mobile Gambling: Disruption or Innovation in Tribal Gaming.” 

To examine the business of running a successful sports book, discuss how new technology is changing the game and provide further insights for tribal gaming operators, Gene Johnson, vice president at Victor Strategies has assembled panelists Joseph Asher, CEO, William Hill; Kip Levin, president and COO of FanDuel Group, and Vic Salerno, president, USBookmaking for the session “The Business & Economics of Sports Books.” 

In addition, Russ Witt, Ainsworth Game Technology; Debbie Thundercloud, chief of staff, National Indian Gaming Association; Lee Torres, general manager, Pechanga Resort Casino; Seth Young, executive director of online gaming, Foxwoods Resort Casino; and Vernon Finley, general manager, Grey Wolf Peak Casino, will come together for an “Industry Roundtable: Business Opportunities in Sports Betting” discussion. 

While sports betting presents a new area of business opportunities, it also comes with questions on what the next steps are for tribes, how to regulate and promote responsible gaming in this area and what is the timeline for roll-out. Thursday, September 27 will feature sessions including:
“Regulating Sports Betting & Emerging Gaming” which will provide insight into necessary tools and best practices for tribes and tribal leaders at the front line of providing oversight of the new channels. Hear from leaders already regulating sports betting including Billy David, owner, Bo-Co-Pa & Associates; Ron Flores, Chairman, Pechanga Gaming Commission; John Roberts, Commissioner, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Gaming Commission; and George Rover, managing partner, Princeton Global Strategies. Led by moderator Chris Stearns, Commissioner, Washington State Gambling Commission. 

“Technology & Responsible Gambling: The Casino in your Hand” will look at the new technology and tools aimed at promoting responsible gaming as technology becomes further integrated with our daily lives. Moderator Kevin Mullaly, vice president of government relations & general council for Gaming Laboratories International will lead panelists Robert Jacobson, executive director, California Council on Problem Gambling; Connie Jones, director of responsible gaming, AGEM; and Cameron Conn, founder and CEO, GameSecure to address the research results and impact of these tools. 

The program concludes with a stand out panel of tribal leaders looking at the road ahead. Moderator Victor Rocha, president, Victor Strategies, will bring together Ernie Stevens, Jr. Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association; Mark Macarro, Chairman, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians; Greg Sarris, Chairman, The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; Rodney Butler, Chairman, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe; and Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in a discussion of the most important questions facing Indian Country for the future during “The Road Ahead: Tribal Gaming after PASPA”. 

In addition to education, the event will also feature 25+ leading manufacturers, the annual John Kieffer Awards Luncheon, the annual golf tournament, Commissioner Certification training, and hours of networking. 

To register for the conference and expo or any of the events, visit  

The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), established in 1985, is a non-profit organization of Sovereign tribal nations with other non-voting associate members representing organizations and businesses engaged in Tribal Gaming. The common commitment and purpose of NIGA is to advance the lives of Indian peoples economically, socially and politically. NIGA operates as a clearinghouse and educational, legislative and public policy resource for tribes, policymakers and the public on Indian gaming issues and tribal community development. For more information visit