Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino was selected for the prestigious Barona/Venture Catalyst “VCAT” Award for Excellence in Indian Gaming Marketing from a group of six tribal gaming properties that were competing for the honor. The name of the award pays homage to the “Barona Resort and Casino, the jewel of the Barona Band of Mission Indians, and its consulting partner, VCAT,” according to Dennis Conrad, president and chief strategist of the Reno, Nevada-based Raving Consulting Company and creator of the award. Tribal artisan Raymond Bacon, director of table games for the Cher-Ae Heights Casino in Trinidad, California, chiseled the eagle trophy from driftwood found on the banks of the Klamath River. Bacon, a member of the Yurok Tribe, also created the 2008 award.
This year’s winner Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino joins industry leaders Barona Resort and Casino (2007); Santa Ana Star Casino, New Mexico (2008); Black Oak Casino and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians (2009) in receiving the award. Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino was recognized at a special luncheon during Raving’s 13th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference, which was held at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, California, January 30 through February 1.
The award was open to all Class II and Class III tribal casinos in the U.S. and Canada. “The industry tends to look at Las Vegas and the large commercial casinos for leadership in casino marketing,” Conrad said. “It was due time to recognize the innovative work and the commitment to learning of the tribal gaming community, despite many tribes being relatively new to gaming.”
Participants were asked to provide a compelling essay addressing how their casino links superior marketing efforts to superior financial performance; builds marketing excellence around key constituencies of customers, employees and communities; and integrates marketing effectively throughout their entire casino operation.
“It was extremely exciting to be able to receive this award and to be recognized in a room full of other marketing professionals in the industry,” said Jennifer Bighorse, director of marketing for Osage Million Dollar Casinos. During Bighorse’s acceptance presentation she stated, “We are proud to operate and thrive in an extremely competitive market with 67 competitor casinos located within 100 miles. Everything we do internally and externally begins and ends with our players’ experience, in and out of our casinos.” The Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino brand is owned by the Osage Nation, the 25th largest tribe in the U.S., and it operates seven casino properties.