Wondr Nation: reimagining gaming entertainment

Wondr Nation is creating an inclusive environment within its operations by ‘reimagining’ the gaming entertainment experience, according to its CEO and President, Anika Howard.

Speaking to SBC at the recent SBC Summit North America, Howard explained that by reimagining the industry and operating in a different way, Wondr Nation – a Connecticut-based online casino and sports betting company launched by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation – can help to attract more Native Americans and young people to the industry.

She explained: “A lot of work that we’re doing is really focused around creating training programs so that tribal members and other Native Americans can be part of this industry and we’re very proud of that. 

“The other part is to really introduce young people to the industry. We have several partnerships that we’re working on with local universities in the state of Connecticut to educate but also create opportunities and explain all the things that this industry has to offer. 

“Finally, it is really about reimagining gaming entertainment. What are some of the things that we can have lessons learned from the past four years and, as a new tech art is emerging, what are some of the things that we can do to create a deeper, more engaging player experience as we roll out new products into the market?”

Howard outlined how Wondr Nation is attempting to rethink the online sports betting and casino industry and how it views its products in a more holistic manner, not just thinking of sports betting from a pure sports perspective.

“One of the things that we’re looking at is, for example, esports,” she added. “What are the opportunities to create this online and on-property kind of integrated experience for esports, so that you have some experience to have on-property but then there are things that you can do online and how can we do it from an entertainment standpoint, not just from a pure sports component?

“We find a lot of these opportunities to not just focus on the gambling piece but more on the experiential piece. What are things you can do? How you layer on things like VR and AI to create a richer and more engaging experience for the player.

“Our goal is to work with partners, because we can’t do it in the vacuum, and then to reach out to upstart and start-up companies that have creative ways to think about things and give them a platform and an opportunity.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Howard shared some key insight into African-Americans within the gaming industry, market developments from Connecticut since its sports betting launch last October and Wondr Nation’s expansion plans moving forward.