IGA 2022 review: Gaming gets the California Love

By Tim Poole

After heading to Las Vegas in 2021, NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association) hit the palm trees of Anaheim, California, this April for its showpiece tradeshow. And, in fact, the organisation got a facelift along the way, as organisers rebranded to the Indian Gaming Association (IGA) during the event.

Following the heavily iGaming-focused ICE London the previous week, IGA provided a familiar return to what show-goers were used to pre-pandemic – especially in the US; floors were filled (admittedly not as busily as usual) with huge land-based gaming cabinets, slot machines, craps tables and various other gaming-related offerings.

Suppliers from Aruze Gaming to Zitro showcased their best-performing and newest products, as attendees very much got down to business on a busy Thursday on the show floor. There is no denying the Friday that followed was far quieter, but who knows what deals were arranged by those still on hand and with more time to negotiate?

It is difficult to compare IGA and ICE this year, given that one essentially became an iGaming show and the other a tribal event. But one direct comparison that could be applied was the success of the shows’ respective conference tracks.

Is it just me or do Americans do discussion panels – or education sessions, as they were named here – better?

ICE’s agenda was filled with regulatory specialists, with plenty of the usual discussion about advertising, sustainability and the like. But is it just me or do Americans do discussion panels – or education sessions, as they were named here – better?

There was plenty to discuss, of course, especially with California yet to legalise iGaming or sports betting. Seriously – for a UK visitor to have attended a baseball game here and have no legal method of betting on it blew my mind. Although so did the cupholders behind every seat at the Anaheim Stadium, but in a different way...

Elsewhere, the role of free-to-play wagering was championed and, I must admit, it has a far wider impact on the overall gaming ecosystem than I previously imagined. Interblock CEO John Connelly also put forward his notion that table games worth less than $25 simply won’t be viable in the future due to their lack of return to the casino.

A genuinely wide-ranging and diverse set of conferences covered just about every other topic within tribal gaming, as well as non-gaming issues close to the heart for tribal reservations. My personal favourite panel, however, addressed cashless payments within the industry – and perhaps I remember it best because everyone loves a bit of debate: some real-life disagreement.

Following the heavily iGaming-based ICE London the previous week, IGA provided a familiar return to what show-goers were used to pre-pandemic – especially in the US

The full panel will be written up in our upcoming Payments Focus magazine – and, within that article, make sure you watch out for Global Payments’ Christopher Justice and his exchange with Axes’ Earle Hall.

A packed room saw an insightful discussion play out (with some occasional fireworks!), demonstrating the growing appreciation for the role of payments within gaming; a number of people even stood to watch at the back…

Of course, a slow Friday at the main show itself, and a smaller set of stands than we are used to at the likes of ICE and G2E, suggests this event certainly won’t be the biggest of the year. But IGA 2022 provided a memorable week for the industry nonetheless, and I think it’s fair to say a valuable one.

IGA will be back in California for 2023, but returning to San Diego, meaning it’s goodbye to Anaheim and its Convention Center for now. But you can still feel the California Love with our video coverage on LinkedIn – full of Q&As and product demonstrations available now on both the Gambling Insider and Gaming America feeds.

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