Anika Howard: WONDR NATION to improve player experience with emerging tech

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation highlighted innovation and empowerment as two key components of its recent WONDR NATION rebranding.
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The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation highlighted innovation and empowerment as two key components of its rebranding from Mashantucket Pequot Interactive to WONDR NATION.

The digital gaming venture’s goal is to create “maximum opportunities, profitability, and impact for industry partners,” as well as expand Mashantucket’s online footprint whilst partnering 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 legalization and launch of sports betting and online gaming in Connecticut. MPI is the official online gaming license holder,” noted Anika Howard, who was also confirmed as President & CEO of WONDR NATION.

“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.”   

Howard added: “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.”

Alongside maintaining the tribe’s tradition and commitment to the communities via partnerships with local organizations and educational institutes, WONDR NATION will also improve the player experience by utilizing emerging tech.

Expanding on how the entity will 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 Mashantucket Pequot tribe is focused on the trifecta of igaming, sports wagering, and social casino, with the latter continuing to grow despite the 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.

Looking ahead the CEO noted: “This year we will continue to build our team and our ecosystem of partners.

“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.