Arizona Indian Gaming Association to Showcase a Decade of Gaming Progress

Lee Allen

The Arizona Indian Gaming Association is celebrating its first decade since tribal leaders made a commitment to advance the lives of Indian peoples – economically, socially, and politically – so that Indian tribes in Arizona could achieve a common goal of self-reliance.

It’s working, because in unity (17 of the state’s 22 tribes are members) there is strength.  Recent accomplishments will be highlighted at the 2014 AIGA EXPO to be held at the Yavapai tribe’s We-Ko-Pa Resort/Conference Center in Scottsdale, November 5-7.

Ernest Stevens Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, recently reported in Indian Gaming magazine that, “The seeds of Indian gaming began in the late 1960s and early 1970s when a handful of tribal governments opened the first modern gaming operations and used the revenue to fund essential programs and meet the basic needs of their people. Indian gaming has responsibly grown to provide a steady source of revenue to address ongoing social and economic struggles – a total of over $32 billion in direct and ancillary revenues in 2013.”

Evidence of that continuing success can be found in Arizona’s tribal casino operations. “Arizona presents a great case study of how Indian gaming has grown to be a vital resource of revenue,” says Valerie Spicer, Executive Director of AIGA.

“Our culture teaches us to give back and help others, so we are proud to report that tribal gaming over the last 11 years has now reached a milestone with a first quarter fiscal year 2015 report of more than $1 billion in shared tribal gaming revenues to the Arizona Benefits Fund. When tribal leaders envisioned how to share gaming revenues, they wanted to provide not only for their own people, but for everyone who calls our state home. These monies support things like education for our children, economic development, and emergency care, all part of our mission of helping to lift Arizona tribes out of centuries of neglect and poverty.”

The upcoming EXPO will be informative, educational, and entertaining as the current status of gaming success is revealed by both Stevens and Spicer. Congruent with planning for the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix, conference keynote speaker will be veteran quarterback Jake “The Snake” Plummer discussing strategies to achieve the greatest potential.

San Diego State University’s Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming will present a first-ever executive program for attendees. “We’ve taken portions of our 4-year program for Native Americans in tribal casino management and created an executive training mini-version,” says the Institute’s chairwoman, Katherine Spilde. “This is a new frontier for us, the first time we’ve taken the education out of the campus classrooms and presented it directly to the tribes themselves.”

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