When you think of online gaming and entertainment, do you think of eSports, social casino games, or sports betting? What about traditional tribal values, a Black female chief executive officer, and major plans for community development? WONDR NATION is all of the above.
Created by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation — a federally recognized Indian tribe located at one of the oldest reservations in existence and pioneers of the Indian casino gaming industry — WONDR NATION is a new online gaming entertainment company that launched in May 2022. Formerly known as Mashantucket Pequot Interactive, WONDR NATION is focused on partnering with best-in-class gaming platforms and using emerging technologies to create new and exciting experiences for today’s players.
The uniqueness of WONDR NATION’s distinct visual identity places Native American culture at the forefront of the brand’s design aesthetic. Honoring its rich traditions, the red, black, and white brand colors embrace its connection with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to capture the spirit of the Tribe. Taking it a step further, the logo represents a weave pattern stitch which corelates with basket weaving, an important aspect of tribal history.
Spearheading the company’s and newly appointed chief executive officer and president, Anika Howard. Known throughout the industry for her leadership ability, Howard is recognized as a visionary who drives gaming companies and products into evolving areas. With this new role at the Tribe’s latest venture, she paves the way for diverse industry leadership within the gaming and betting sector.
Championing forward-thinking, innovation, and diversity in every aspect while implementing a refreshing take on the industry, Howard knows there’s a lot of work to be done in the gaming world.
“We hope to inspire discussions on how the gaming industry can make space and opportunity for more diverse voices and engaging experiences,” said Howard.
“We are building a team that ensures the people sitting around the table and making decisions have diversity of thought, experiences and reflect the communities we aim to serve.”
WONDR NATION’s launch couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Native American gaming generates almost half of all gaming revenue in the U.S. and is undoubtedly a critical economic force. Given the rate in which online gaming is expanding, the future looks bright for this industry. Much of how we consume and enjoy entertainment is ever-evolving, especially as the internet serves as a leading entertainment source.
With betting moving from real to virtual, WONDR NATION’s rebrand is reflective of the Tribe evolving to meet the growing demands of online gaming.
“There is very strong momentum for the expansion of gaming online coupled with more emphasis on the need for diversity within the industry,” said Howard.
“Regulators are emphasizing the importance of organizational commitment to diversity.”
Innovations in technology have significantly fueled the growth of online sports betting and iGaming operations. As Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation plans to leverage WONDR NATION to expand its digital footprint, it will work in coordination with DraftKings on the co-branded Foxwoods online gaming and sports betting experience in Connecticut and Puerto Rico. The brand’s extension of offerings goes beyond traditional retail and online gaming experiences to call attention to how tribal nations can lead the continuing evolution of gaming.
With consumers desiring more interactive experiences, WONDR NATION incorporates robust immersive gaming and social interactions experiences for players — with sights on the metaverse and virtual and augmented reality experiences.
In addition to creating engaging online gaming experiences, the company maintains a genuine focus on diversity and understands that putting the interests of its customers, their preferences and experiences front and center will be key.
“As WONDR NATION expands, we plan to invest in content that authentically connects with specific audiences like women, Latinx+, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ communities, which will fill a gap in the market,” said Howard.
“We have ambitions to change the industry from this perspective.”
WONDR NATION also maintains the Tribe’s commitment in creating generational opportunities for its members and will create the space and opportunity for impactful community development.
With a vested interest in continuing the Tribe’s tradition and commitment to the community, the company will serve as a supportive resource for players across its platform by prioritizing player education and responsible gaming.
“We are exploring best practices from other markets to help identify effective programs and continue to create safe, engaging experiences for players,” explained Howard.
“The primary way to plan to have a sustainable and long-term relationship with our players is to educate them on how to play safely and responsibly on our platforms. Technology allows us to provide advanced predictive models — we can create personalized player direction.”