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Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Appoints First Full-Time Director, Sheila Morago

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The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) hired the former executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA), Sheila Morago, as its first full-time executive director.

A member of the Gila River Indian Community, Morago is excited to join the organization, which ranks as the fourth largest gaming revenue generator behind Nevada, California and New Jersey, says Morago, who began her duties with OIGA on May 16, 2011. Oklahoma claims 39 tribes, and 33 Indian nations hold gaming compacts with the state. OIGA membership includes 22 of the 33 gaming tribes.

While the AIGA is sad to lose a strong asset, the officials and community members wish Morago the best in her new role. “This is a big loss for Arizona,” said Diane Enos, president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “Under Sheila’s leadership, AIGA has maintained national visibility as the model for Indian gaming. She has fostered an environment of mutual respect among all of the tribes, the state and the federal government. I know that I am speaking for all of the leadership when I say that we appreciate her talents and wish her well.”

As executive director for AIGA, Morago successfully led negotiations with the state of Arizona, managing compacting, regulatory, security and surveillance and jurisdictional issues. While in that role, Morago received prestigious awards. The March/April 2004 issue of Casino Enterprise Management named Morago one of the “Great Women of Gaming.” In 2006, the magazine Global Gaming Business named Morago as one of its 25 people to watch, reported The Arizona Republic.

“Sheila’s extraordinary grasp of Indian gaming from a legal, cultural, social and economic standpoint has been invaluable in our dealings with the Governor’s office and the Arizona legislature,” said Kristen Boilini, of KRB Consulting, the legislative lobbyist for AIGA. “She has a unique ability to keep everyone focused on the key issues and moving forward so that we can achieve the goals of the tribal leaders.”

Prior to joining AIGA in 2004, Sheila served as the tribal liaison for Arizona’s For Fair Gaming and Indian Self-Reliance, Proposition 202, which enabled Arizona tribes to extend their gaming compacts with the state. Morago coordinated all efforts between the 17 Tribes belonging to the coalition and the casino operations for that campaign.

Morago began her career in public relations as director of marketing for the Gila River Casinos in 1994. She went on to serve as director of public relations for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), based in DC, from 1998 to 2001.

Valerie Spicer, deputy director, has been appointed acting director for the Arizona Indian Gaming Association.