Chairman’s Presentation at Indian Gaming Convention features appearance by Mark Wahlberg Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports · July 22, 2021 at 3:04 pm No one anticipated that Wednesday’s presentation by National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. would be anything more than a state-of-the-union message about tribal gaming. Instead, it became the most buzzworthy event of the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention in Las Vegas. Actor, producer, entrepreneur, and former rapper Mark Wahlburg, along and his brother Paul, drew a huge crowd at the tradeshow when they received the Rebuilding Indian Communities through Self-Reliance 2021 Business Leadership Award from NIGA. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians from Michigan also received the award. Last week, Little River Holdings signed a deal granting Wahlburger’s Franchising exclusivity to either franchise or own and operate restaurant locations on tribal properties in U.S. and Canada. Mark Wahlburg said the award should be credited to his family, especially his late mother, who passed away in April. “We had a lot of opportunity to go astray when were young, while she and my dad worked really hard just to pay the bills,” Wahlberg said, who donned a ceremonial blanket when accepting the award. “When they separated, that was really difficult. But we were able to make our mom proud just before she passed and we continue to honor that. It’s an honor for us to share our family experience with your family. We thank you so much.” Stevens cited the deal between the Wahlburgs and Little River as an economically sound deal that also will boost the tribe’s visibility. “I’m telling you, this is what the role model is,” Stevens said. “This is what we’re doing in the country. We’re reaching out to beyond Indian country. … This is major milestone today. Not just that Mr. Mark Wahlberg is here today, but the fact that he is doing business with Indian country, that’s the most significant part of this presentation.” Rege Behe is lead contributor to CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please follow @RegeBehe_exPTR on Twitter.