Traditionally the casino market in the United States had always been competitive. Not only between companies that are renowned the world over such as MGM, Caesars and Resorts World in the gambling hubs of Las Vegas and Atlantic City but in more widespread areas.
It’s in these areas where Native Indian Tribes have traditionally prospered through the running of casinos that focus on casino style gaming such as slots and table games.
But as times move on, the need to increase your revenue streams, even in a supposedly recession-proof market, is increasingly apparent. You need look no further than the online joint ventures and partnerships entered into by the large commercial casino companies to see that while their focus isn’t necessarily shifting, it is now encompassing online activities.
In general, the Native Indian Tribes that are such a significant part of the US land based gambling market have been hesitant to do the same. However, progress is now well under way as today sees the first ever iGaming conference that’s focused on the opportunities for Native Tribal Nations taking place.
It is the Oklahoma Tribes and GEObet iGaming Conference which is being held at the Cherokeee Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The conference will last just one day has been put together solely with the intention of providing tribes with a first step into online gambling.
For the tribes, this conference represents a significant milestone on their journey from completely opposing online gambling to seeing the benefits of it. And for them there are many reasons why it’s undoubtedly a good thing.
To begin with, as alluded to earlier, the competition for land based casinos continues to increase and shows no signs of stopping. In Oklahoma where the conference is being held, five different applications for tribal lands have been approved in recent years with more than 60 acres being given away.
To add to that, there are another four applications pending as Oklahoma tribes dominate the list of those looking to branch out for greater opportunities. Of the eleven recently approved applications, five of them were in Oklahoma while four of 14 pending applications are regarding land in Oklahoma.
This saturation of the land based casino market isn’t just confined to the Sooner State either. By far the most crowded state when it comes to Tribal casinos is on the West Coast in California where a critical mass is being reached. Not only has the popularity of commercial card rooms in the more urban areas of the state increased, but tribes that have previously had little or no standing in casino gaming have upped their efforts. For some, that has lead to the controversial practice commonly referred to as off-reservation gaming.
Given the complexity of this issue, online gambling is fast becoming a simpler alternative – and it’s not often that you can say that. Without the need to fret over the Carcieri Fix, Diane Feinstein’s anti-gambling approach or encroaching onto other tribes’ ancestral lands, Tribal nations are able to generate the greatly desired revenue stream from iGaming.
Of course, online casinos come with their own form of competition and while the US is not like the saturated markets of some European countries, it’s not without its own challenges.
The GEObet Network provides Tribal Nations with the wherewithal to compete against the large casino consortiums that have vast resources and are capable of raiding the online customer bases of smaller casinos. Within that, there’s the added element of competition amongst each other.
Where previously, the customers of Tribal casinos was determined by geography, being on the same network provides an added element of competition. But despite being on the same platform, casinos on the GEObet Network will be able to stand out from the crowd by varying their bonus and promotion offers in the way that established online casinos are required to.
As well as having better offers than their peers, another way for Tribal Nations to establish a solid customer base is simply to be one of the first to get online. Given that the tagging system of the Network will work much in the same way as how players that come through affiliates are tagged, the casino that first signs up a player will see the benefits throughout that player’s lifetime.
Best qualified to talk about being on the network and the benefits of getting in early is Bernard Shepherd, chief executive office of Northern Bear Casino who were the first tribal nation to set up shop online with the GEObet Network. Shepherd is delivering the keynote speech and will be reflecting on his organization’s brief period online.
When the Northern Bear Casino launched online back in November, Shepherd revealed his reasons for doing so by saying that “First Nations need to occupy the field of online gambling.”
He added: “I’ll be operating under the same inherent, treaty, constitutional and sovereign rights as when I opened the first Indian casino in Canada in February 26, 1993. Our forefathers traded globally 100-plus years ago and entrepreneurship has been in our DNA for 10,000 plus years.”