When the National Indian Gaming Commission released the 2008 gaming revenues at the North American Gaming Regulators Association conference on June 3rd, the results were surprising, given the state of the economy. According to the figures, Indian gaming took in $26.7 billion in 2008, which amounts to a 2.3% increase over the prior year and represents growth of more than $500 million over 2007. These figures imply that Indian gaming remains a strong means of economic development for Indian nations.
According to surveys, over the past decade, Indian gaming has more than doubled from $9.8 billion to last year’s $26.7 billion. The rate of growth of Indian gaming has, however, steadily decreased over the past few years.
Reports show that although the Washington region has the fewest number of gaming operations it is the second top regional earner because it is home to two of the largest casinos in the country. The next biggest earner was the St. Paul region, which includes Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. But the biggest percentage increases are in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City regions, which include Kansas, eastern and western Oklahoma and Texas. The gross gaming revenues represent the amounts bet or wagered by gaming patrons, less the amounts paid out as wins or prizes.
It is likely that we will continue to see an increase in Indian gaming given the attractive and high quality entertainment tribes provide to the public. Gaming and casinos just may prove to be one of those few precious areas that are somewhat recession proof.