Supporting Indian Gaming – the Raving NIGA Wrap-Up


A star-studded guest list including Notah Begay III, Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., A.C. Green and tribal leaders and casino executives throughout the country came together for a night of laughter benefiting the NB3 Foundation.

The Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention (NIGA), the largest gathering of tribal leaders and casino executives in the country, was held for the first time in Las Vegas. This provided an opportunity for Raving to hold their 4th Annual Native Strong Comedy Slam at a spectacular venue: The Smith Center.

Myron’s Cabaret Jazz was loud with laughter with over 140 guests. The night kicked off with a heartfelt welcome and message from Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. of NIGA and Notah Begay III and was followed by Native American comics, Ernie Tsosie, headliner Howie Miller and our long-time event host Larry Omaha. Each year Raving Entertainment Partner, Kell Houston, is tasked with the lineup instructions: must be Native American, incredibly funny, and oh yeah, work for peanuts as this is for a charity event. Once again, he nailed it!

The event benefits the Notah Begay III Foundation and its critical work addressing obesity and type 2 diabetes amongst Native American youth. Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. announced “The message is clear. We have to have a healthier Native American community. It’s more than just getting away from alcohol, drugs and violence. We have to spread the message that we can do better.”
Raving CEO Deana Scott shared, “The Comedy Slam is where it always comes together for me – there’s nothing like shared laughter. I leave more determined and more connected to why we’re in this business. This event brings together Tribal leaders and gaming executives that are so passionate and dedicated to the success of Indian gaming and to a better future for generations to come. I can’t thank our supporters enough.”

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Mid-Year Alert! Six Ways to Stay Ahead of Your Year-End Audit


By Kevin Huddleston, CPA, CGMA, CFF, Strategic Raving Partner, Accounting and Auditing, and Partner, Finley & Cook

Trees are budding. Grass is turning green again. Spring is in the air. It’s time to start our spring cleaning and yard work to mend things from the effects of winter. This can also be a good time to do the same thing in our financial and operational “house” at the casino. If you have a September 30 fiscal year-end, you’re half way through another year. Now is a good time to do a little catch-up and clean-up before another year-end and audit are upon us. Here are a few things that your team should be doing now to make sure the next year-end and audit go smoothly:

  1. One of the most important things you should do between audits is address the internal control findings from your last audit.Unresolved findings from the MICS Agreed Upon Procedures report and any other internal control deficiencies and material weaknesses noted by the auditors send red flags to gaming commission internal audit staff, the external auditors, and, if unresolved for several years, the NIGC. Make the effort now to clean up the processes and policy documents that gave rise to the findings. You may not be able to resolve all issues before the next audit, but better to be doing something to address them than ignoring them.
  1. Your accounting and finance staff should be reviewing any new standards coming into effect in the current year and determining how they will be addressed from a transaction recording and financial reporting perspective. Why? The accounting standard setting bodies, FASB and GASB, have been fairly active in the past few years. They may require changes to some processes or procedures. They can also change report formats and, in some cases, may necessitate a change in the way some things are done or how contracts are executed. Your team may want to consult with the auditors on how they expect the new standards to be handled.

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Will we see you at NIGA?

We look forward to seeing you next week at NIGA!

Please stop by the Raving booth #927!
Say "hi" to our team and our Raving Partners that will be hanging out with us. Need an exhibit floor pass? Get your free tradeshow floor badge here.

Also visit with our Partners:

Finley & Cook - booth #929
Engaged Nation - booth #250

Mark your calendars for these Raving sessions:

Big Data & Marketing: How The Information Revolution Changed Marketing Forever
Tuesday, April 17, 2:15 PM - 3:00 PM
Presenters: Doug Parker, Raving Partner, Compliance Supervisor, Finley & Cook, Heidi Hamers, Corporate Vice President of Marketing, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, Robert Bohn, Director of CRM | Marketing, Chumash Casino Resort, Stuart Kerr, Senior Data Scientist, Pechanga Resort and Casino, Deana Scott, Raving CEO View Session →

Regulating the Relationship: Gaming Commissions and Casino Operation 
Wednesday, April 18, 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM
Presenters: Raving Partners Pam Reynolds, Senior Manager, Finley & Cook, PLLC and Rachel Loudon, Compliance Manager, Finley & Cook, PLLC View Session →

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What Is the Middle Man Costing You?


By Mark Astone, Strategic Raving Partner, Branding, Advertising and Media Services and CEO, Catalyst Marketing Company

It is safe to say you are running some sort of digital advertising as part of your overall advertising plan (if not, maybe we should talk). What I love about digital is it can be highly targeted to your gamers and a gaming audience. The challenge is having someone implement your targeting. Despite the growing prevalence of digital targeted advertising, there are few digital marketers or agencies that do the actual digital media buy.

Across all the different digital advertising facets (SEM, Display, Pre-roll, etc.) many companies source the targeting and ad placement to a third party, including the added-value from your traditional media buys your media agency/team has secured for you. There is always a cost associated with this. I have seen casinos pay $1-3 per click on SEM when utilizing a third-party buyer. Often these casinos aren’t even aware their buy is being routed through a third party. Buying direct can bring the price per click down as low as $0.65. That is a big difference!

This “convenience fee” of having someone else buy your digital media is most certainly going to be taken out of your media (or added-value) budget. As stewards of our clients’ budgets, we are always looking for effective ways to gain market share for our clients while effectively stretching their budgets. Rather than pass and expense through to our clients’ budgets, we want to pass on savings. This is why Catalyst made the conscious decision to work with Demand-Side Platforms (DSP) to buy digital media directly from online advertising exchanges rather than outsource to other vendors.

Besides the obvious issue of the added expense of your digital media buy being outsourced, is the access and reliability of the data. Recently, we were asked to do a data analysis for a casino’s media buy. When we asked them how their website was performing they were quick to boast about how incredible the numbers were; their site visits were significantly higher than they had ever seen. The challenge was, they didn’t know where the site visits were coming from. Once we were able to pull the data from the third-party vendor their agency was using we learned the largest percentage of their new site visits were coming from a state that represented only 1% of their revenue/player database.

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Raving’s Solutions Magazine April 2018 Issue

Your New Raving Strategic Solutions Magazine has arrived!

Check out what's inside!


Will you be attending NIGA? Pick up your free copy of the magazine at our booth (#927) and join us at the fourth annual Native Strong Comedy Slam on April 19 - learn more about this fundraising event on page 20.

From your favorite columnists:

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Tribal Spirit of Giving Celebration 2018

 Highlights from the National Indian Gaming Analytics & Marketing Conference

Looking back to when most Baby Boomers and older generations entered the workforce, using corporate philanthropy as a basis to work for a company was a non-factor. This was also the case when it came to buying a company’s products or services.

Indeed, until fairly recently, many companies agreed with economist Milton Friedman who wrote, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”

Enter into the 21st century, and there’s a new standard. An organization’s focus on environmental and community social wellbeing does play a factor in their bottom line. Many of these companies weave their altruistic stories into their overall marketing strategies, with philanthropy buying goodwill from consumers and employees.

With that being said, tribes have a history of uncommon generosity and support to non-native and native communities. For Native American organizations, “giving back” and “sharing of wealth” are not a corporate trends, but a part of their cultural heritage.

Unfortunately, tribal gaming organizations are seldom recognized for the millions of dollars and hundreds of life-changing programs that they endow every year, for reasons ranging from a desire to give quietly to good works being overshadowed by ongoing anti-Indian gaming sentiment.

The Tribal Spirit of Giving

To share the many untold stories of positive relationships between tribal entities and the regions in which they operate, gaming and hospitality firm Raving created the Tribal Spirit of Giving recognition program in 2015. This program’s purpose was to raise awareness and recognize the acts of giving

 by tribal communities.

Since its inception, the Tribal Spirit of Giving has honored over 50 generous acts of giving by Native communities across the nation. Tribal casinos are asked to “share their stories” and are celebrated annually at a special celebration luncheon during Raving’s National Indian Gaming Analytics and Marketing Conference. This luncheon, which was sponsored by VGT – An Aristocrat Company, was held on January 31, 2018, at Choctaw Casino Durant, Okla. While several of last year’s entries benefited national organizations, this year’s submissions were focused on local programs which included rebuilding a community baseball park, supplying a food bank, providing supplies for local school children and raising money for a community’s Boys and Girls club. Real people. Real causes. Real impact.

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Using Gamification to Actively Engage Employees and Increase Profitability


By Jerry Epstein, Raving Partner and CEO, Engaged Nation

Have you ever passed a team member doing their job and was not completely satisfied with their performance? In these moments, many of us might think how nice it would be to have the time to tutor our team members on a regular basis. Yet with so much on our plates, there is barely time to get everything done – let alone teach others about our culture, customer service, compliance and even what is happening on our floor so that our team members can be of greater value to our guests.

We all know the consequences we face with a single negative interaction between a frontline team member and a guest. These instances occur more frequently than we care to admit. And we know they can cause major ramifications to our P&L, so creating deeper levels of engaging education across your entire team becomes a critical mission.

Welcome to one of the more prevalent challenges we all face on a daily basis. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And yes, there is a solution.

Let’s take a look at this national crisis ...

According to the 2017 Gallop “State of the American Workplace,” only 33% of Americans are engaged at work, while a staggering 51% are not. Even worse, 16% of workers are actively disengaged, which means that these employees are actually undermining organizations from within.

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You’re Invited to the 2018 Native Strong Comedy Slam Benefiting the Notah Begay III Foundation

Thursday, April 19, 2018
The Smith Center Las Vegas, NV
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm Cocktail Reception
9:00 pm Comedy Slam

Sponsorship Opportunities

Reserve Your Table Today

Dear Ravers,

We know there are a lot of activities during NIGA, but here’s one you can’t miss. This event has developed into “the event to attend” during NIGA to network with the right folks in a beautiful setting and laugh so hard that your stomach hurts the next day, all while supporting a very important cause.
It’s the 4th annual Native Strong Comedy Slam on Thursday night, April 19 at 9:00 pm, at the stunning Smith Center in Las Vegas.

Join us for three extremely funny Native American comics, Ernie Tsosie, headliner Howie Miller and our long-time event host Larry Omaha. This evening of laughs benefits the Notah Begay III Foundation and its critically important work addressing the health and fitness of Native American youth. We’re thrilled that this event is an official event during the Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Exposition and is once again endorsed by Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. and the National Indian Gaming Association.

We can’t be more delighted to be hosting this event at the nationally-renowned Smith Center. Attendees and sponsors can choose from a variety of seating options with tables on the floor and on the balcony, perfect for your groups of four, six or eight, as well as individual tickets. Please view the layout and packages here.

Your evening begins at 6:30 pm for cocktails on the outdoor courtyard. Enjoy conversations with the comics and over 200 of Tribal gaming’s industry leaders and supporters. The show begins at 9:00 pm inside the Myron’s Cabaret Jazz room.

The best part of the night? Well, besides the gorgeous venue, the gut-busting laughter, the premiere networking with key leaders in our industry … it’s a wonderful evening for an excellent cause: keeping Native American youth healthy through the efforts of the Notah Begay III Foundation.

We have sold out every year … so make sure to reserve your seat today by going to our Comedy Slam website.

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Why do I know more about your product than your employee?


By Deana Scott, Raving CEO

We now live in an age where our customers are more educated about our product than ever before. According to a recent study conducted by Forbes, 82% of consumers do research online before they ever venture into a retail establishment to make a purchasing decision. Additionally, a study by GE Capital Retail Bank found consumers are spending an average of 79 days gathering information before purchasing a major item.

What happens after the research when the customer arrives? Let me give you an example.

Recently I spent hours researching online for a new running shoe. Once I determined the shoe I wanted, I made a special trip to visit the store that carried the brand. I was sold on the customized sizing process that included measuring stride, width, etc. Now, this might sound excessive, but for me, finding the right shoe meant the ability to run or not. My experience was fabulous from the moment I walked into the store. The on-property experience exceeded the expectations I had created before arriving. The welcome, the personalization, the purchase and the warm departure all met my expectation.

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Five Key Ways to Improve Your Food and Beverage Operation – Part V


By Brett L. Magnan, Raving Partner, Hospitality

In this series, we have covered SERVICE, LABOR, MENU & FOOD PRESENTATION, COSTING & WASTE as areas of focus by Food & Beverage Directors and professionals determined to improve or fine-tune their operation. The last in this series is the FINANCIAL REVIEW.

The monthly financial review is often the most dreaded by F&B management; having to explain to the executives their performance compared to gaming. The food and beverage business is by nature very difficult to perform very profitably – if at all. The expectation is that each outlet will run a 30% cost of goods (blended), 30% labor cost, other expenses in the 30% and leaving a healthy 10% gross operating profit.

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