Dennis’ wrap up and take on Raving’s signature marketing conference
At Raving’s recently concluded 19th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference at Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, OK, a longtime friend and colleague whispered to me, “Wow, you really have some big names in Indian country at your event this year!”
And he was right. Ernie Stevens, Jr., the NIGA Chairman, was there for the first time. Notah Begay III, the Native sports hero and philanthropist, gave the Luncheon Keynote Address, and the President and CEO of Notah’s NB3 Foundation, Justin Kii Huenemann, was there throughout, learning, sharing and networking. Sheila Morago, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, was gracious enough to attend. And so many other leaders. Janie Dillard, the Executive Officer of Operations for the Choctaw Nation. Pam Shaw, the CEO of Kaw Gaming. Joe Nayquonabe, Jr., the Commissioner of Corporate Affairs for Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures. Bryan Hayes, the VP of Financial Analysis and Planning for Foxwoods, along with his talented CEO, Felix Rappaport.
Yes, I’ll admit, I enjoyed the “celebrity” aspect of this year’s Conference. But what I REALLY liked was the realization that Raving has made a difference in Indian gaming and for tribal organizations.
Raving’s efforts at the Conference helped raise nearly $30,000 for the Notah Begay III Foundation to assist in its work addressing obesity and type 2 diabetes among Native youth. The new Tribal Spirit of Giving Awards put a spotlight on the magnificent generosity of tribes, which often goes unnoticed. And the Conference sessions and discussions continued to address issues that are both real and important to tribal marketers at their tribal casinos.
So, while I liked being able to call Chairman Stevens, “Ernie,” and walking the tradeshow floor with Notah like a wideeyed groupie, I know it’s really about “the cause,” however you and your company define it.
Because you can “sell” or “operate” in Indian gaming, or you can choose to be a part of it and make a difference. I know what Raving has chosen, and I am proud that a “piece of our heart” trumps a “piece of our wallet.”