Indian Gaming Marks Fifth Year of Gains

For the fifth year in a row the $28.5 billion Indian gaming industry has gained from the year before. Last year it increased 1.5 percent over the year before.

The National Indian Gaming Commission has released figures showing a fifth consecutive annual gain for the .5 billion Indian casino industry. Last year it increased 1.5 percent over fiscal year 2013.

According to NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri “Overall, the Indian gaming industry remains stable.”

The industry is divided into seven regions, rather than by states. The Sacramento Region includes California and Nevada. It is the largest region with $7.3 billion in revenues, about 25 percent of the national total. Its revenues increased 4.4 percent last year.

The Oklahoma City region of Texas and part of Oklahoma increased 7.5 percent.

Experts in the industry say that lenders consider individual casinos, rather than national trends. They note that no as many new Indian casinos are being built, but that existing ones are adding more hotels or more rooms to existing hotels. The most recent new Indian casino to come on line was the Graton Resort in Northern California, considered the largest casino in the north. The only casino currently being built in California is the $390 million Hollywood Casino Jamul near San Diego.

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens last week told the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: “Without question, Indian gaming is the most successful economic development tool for many Indian tribes.”

“I shudder to think what Indian Country would look like without the revenue that comes in from Indian gaming,” Kevin Washburn, assistant secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, commented last week.

Meanwhile, the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University released a study showing tribal casinos had an economic impact of $6.3 billion in the state in 2014. Authorized by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Commission, the report, which included the majority of Native American casinos in the state, also showed in 2014 tribal gaming operations spent more than $580 million at Oklahoma businesses and paid more than $1.16 billion in wages and benefits to about 37,000 casino employees. In addition, Oklahoma tribes and their employees paid more than $264 million in payroll taxes last year, with $30 million going to the state.

The study also indicated in 2014 Oklahoma tribal casinos attracted 38 million visitors, with about 15 million, or 38.3 percent, coming from out of state.

The report is the first statewide economic impact study of tribal gaming in Oklahoma.