OIGA Update with Sheila Morago

What are the primary initiatives that you see your member tribes facing Q4 into early next year?

Our initiatives may take slightly different directions in various years, but at the core they remain consistent: What can we do to adapt or add to our offerings to meet the needs of our guests, and what can we do to better the lives of our citizens, Tribal and non-Tribal, in Oklahoma.

After two and a half years spent coping with and adapting to the new normal, attendance and enthusiasm for gaming are on an uptick. We’re grateful for that, but at the same time, we’re always interested in what else we can do to enhance the experience.

After hosting your annual Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow and Convention, what were the most surprising takeaways or conversations?

We were excited by the turnout – we knew people were ready to come out, see each other and do business but we may have underestimated their enthusiasm.

It was wonderful from our perspective. Our John Marley Scholarship Fund benefitted from a sold-out Golf Tournament. Our Trade Show Floor sold out. More than 2,600 people attended our 40+ sessions, social events and awards ceremony. We awarded eight scholarships to students whose parents work in Oklahoma’s gaming industry and to students who themselves are employed by the gaming industry.

Our customary opening night welcome party moved onto the Trade Show Floor and became a “Stay and Play” with great food and beverages, along with our poker and blackjack tournaments. It’s safe to say that a wonderful time was had by all.

Are there any special events, news items, etc., that you’d like to share with our subscribers?

The Tribal Gaming industry in Oklahoma has paid more than $2 billion in exclusivity fees to the State of Oklahoma since 2006, with the majority going to education. This is a significant milestone worth marking, however what is more important to us is the ‘community and people’ side of the equation.

Our industry means jobs, healthcare, education, housing and infrastructure – mostly in rural Oklahoma. We build bridges, literally. And metaphorically. Tribes help keep financial resources turning over in local communities longer and we help retain families in local communities.

To us, it’s important to consistently make the point that Tribes will always remain here, in Oklahoma. This is a unified commitment. We are very proud of what we have accomplished so far and we’re looking forward to a bright future, and every vendor, speaker and attendee at our Annual Conference and Trade Show is a part of that.

We’re already planning for OIGA’s 2023 Conference and Trade Show! We’ll be back in Tulsa next year, August 8-10.