Anika Howard: WONDR NATION to drive new experiences

Anika Howard: WONDR NATION to drive new experiences

Innovation and empowerment were last month championed as two key facets of a key overhaul that was rolled-out by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, as the former Mashantucket Pequot Interactive officially became WONDR NATION.

It was suggested that the digital gaming venture would look to create “maximum opportunities, profitability, and impact for industry partners,” as well as expanding Mashantucket’s online footprint while continuing to partner with other Native American tribes and tech firms.

“Mashantucket Pequot Interactive was established in July 2021 and we began operating officially in October 2021 in conjunction with the legalisation and launch of sports betting and online gaming in Connecticut. MPI is the official online gaming licence holder,” noted Anika Howard, who was also confirmed as President & CEO of WONDR NATION upon May’s news being disclosed.

“With the rebrand to WONDR NATION, the tribe is expanding its offering beyond Connecticut and traditional retail and online gaming experiences – focusing also on using emerging trends in technology to create new experiences first [through a] pilot at Foxwoods and then extend to other markets.

“Native American gaming generates almost half of all gaming revenue in the US and is a critical driver and economic force. As a growing and thriving part of the overall casino industry – Tribal Nations are well positioned to take a leadership role in how gaming evolves.”   

Adding: “We see our partners as an extension of our brand and we are spending the next year identifying partners that share our vision and want to help bring new products to market. We will involve partners in every part of the process and work together to develop and promote new experiences in gaming.”

In addition to aiming to maintain the tribe’s tradition and commitment to the community through partnerships with local organisations and educational institutes, the entity will also look to utilise emerging tech to heighten the player experience.

Elaborating on how WONDR NATION proposes to deliver the “next frontier of interactive gaming,” Howard continued: “We are taking a test and learn approach to Innovation. We are focusing on building out a solid strategy and creating a company structure and culture that supports this. 

“Additionally, we have our sights on virtual and augmented reality experiences as well as the metaverse. There is a natural crossover between gaming, esports and social, which makes this an interesting creative opportunity. This is something we intend to further explore as we continue to expand our offerings.”

The trifecta of igaming, sports wagering and social casino very much remain the focus for the Mashantucket Pequot tribe moving forward, it is said, with the latter said to be continuing to grow despite the continued expansion of real money gaming.

“Real money gaming is still in its infancy in the states which means there is a lot of runway for innovation,” Howard remarked on where the group is looking to focus when it comes to its digital footprint.

To close, a look ahead to the remainder of the year and beyond is teased with hopes for the future touched upon: “This year we will continue to build our team and our ecosystem of partners,” Howard closed.

“Additionally, we hope that through our dedication to supporting local communities, tribal members and young leaders with learning and development in this space we will empower the next wave of innovators, influencers and driving forces of the future.

Author: Ava Harvey