Washington, DC June 3, 2009 -Today at a gaming conference in the nation’s capital, the National Indian Gaming Commission released data showing that the revenues generated by the Indian gaming industry in 2008 continued to show growth. Commission Chairman Phil Hogen, speaking at the annual conference of the North American Gaming Regulators Association, reported that 2008 gross gaming revenue exceeded the industry’s 2007 revenues by more than $500 million. Gross gaming revenue totaled $26.7 billion, an increase of 2.3% over the prior year.
More than 240 of the nation’s 562 Indian tribes engage in gaming. They operate more than 400 casinos and bingo halls spread throughout 28 states.
The industry’s growth was less than it has been in recent years. Hogen observed, “We know that the economic downturn has impacted casino and bingo hall patrons, and reports from many tribal gaming facilities reflect that. We are often told that while patrons appear to be visiting tribal gaming facilities as often as in the past, they seem to spend less per visit than before the downturn’s onset. The modest growth reflected in these numbers would seem to show that Indian gaming remains a strong and effective means of economic development for Indian nations.”
Hogen explained that the figures released were compiled from independent audits required annually of all tribal gaming operations by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The gross gaming revenues represent the amounts bet or wagered by gaming patrons, less the amounts paid out as wins or prizes. Expenses to build and operate gaming facilities must be paid from gross revenues before tribes may use the funds for other governmental purposes. Individual tribes’ revenue information is proprietary information, and thus no breakdown for particular operations is available or set forth in the data.
Hogen also pointed out that the audits are done after the close of each tribal
operation’s fiscal year. Nearly half the gaming operations’ fiscal years end on
September 30, another 40% end on December 31, and the remainder end on
other dates. Hogen explained, “As has been the case with all the similar annual revenue reports we have issued, these numbers don’t show exact results by calendar year; some tribes’ fiscal years end before the calendar year ends. As a result, some of the economic downturn’s impact may not be fully reflected in these numbers.”
Hogen also explained that while much of the industry’s growth was attributed to more business at many existing facilities, a portion of it was attributable to new facilities.
The Commission’s data also profiles revenue generated by gaming facilities by region and by sizes of the facilities.
The Commission has divided the country into seven regions. The data show that the strongest growth occurred in the two regions that include Oklahoma (home to 31 gaming tribes), Kansas and Texas. Decreases were reflected in the regions that include California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.
The data indicate that gaming revenues are not distributed equally among the gaming tribes. Facilities with annual revenues of less than $100 million constitute over 80% of the more than 400 operations, while fewer than 20% of the operations generate about 70% of the $26.7 billion in revenues.
“It’s obvious that tribes continue to provide attractive and high-quality gaming entertainment to the public,” Hogen stated. “I’m convinced that the vigilant regulatory structure which oversees it—from the primary tribal regulators, to the State regulators participating pursuant to tribal-state compacts, as well as our federal oversight agency— contributes to the continued success of the industry and instills needed confidence that gaming is fair and that the tribal assets and revenues are secure.
For Immediate Release
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