Indian Gaming Revenue Declines for First Time, But Still Gains on Non-Indian Gaming

Mark Fogarty
3/4/11

The Indian gaming industry saw its first decline in 2009--the latest year figures are available for--with revenues falling 1 percent to $26.4 billion, down from $26.7 billion in 2008, according to Casino City’s Indian Gaming Industry Report by Alan Meister.

Indian gaming facilities also made $3.2 billon in non-gaming revenue, down 4 percent from 2008’s $3.3 billion.

In 2009, 237 tribes operated 446 gaming facilities in 28 states. The report noted that 2009 shows a continuation of a trend of declining growth in Indian revenue, with growth declining 15 percent in 2005, 10 percent in 2006, 4 percent in 2007, and 1 percent in 2008. Alabama (34 percent), Wyoming (21 percent), Alaska (18 percent) and Nebraska (13 percent) had the best revenue growth in 2009, due to expansions or replacements of currently operating casinos. Showing the biggest declines: Mississippi, Iowa, Arizona and Connecticut dropped approximately -17 percent, -14 percent, -10 percent, and -7 percent, respectively, states the report.

The declines “have been the result of public policies designed to restrict the supply of Indian gaming,” including legislation, regulation, judicial decisions and state-tribal gaming pacts, according to the report.

While some 58 percent of Indian gaming facilities showed a decline in revenue, 39 percent had increases with gaming revenue concentrated in several states for 2009. California led with $6.9 billion, even though California Indian gaming revenues declined by 5 percent in 2009. The top five states: California, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Florida and Washington, accounted for 61 percent of all Indian gaming revenue.

The report said revenue continues to be concentrated among relatively few operations. The bottom third of gaming facilities generate just 2 percent of 2009 revenues.

Indian gaming revenue declines were still less severe than the nationwide casino industry, which dropped 8 percent. Card rooms showed a 5 percent decline. Indian gaming continues to gain on non-Indian gaming, with 2009 volume representing 96 percent of non-Indian revenue, the Casino City report said. That’s up from 89 percent the year before. Indian gaming “may overtake the commercial casino segment in the near future,” it said.

Racinos, however, outpaced Indian gaming in 2009, showing an increase of 5 percent during the year.

Indian gaming generated 682,000 jobs and $28 billion in payroll during 2009, the report said. It also generated more tan $10 billion in tax payments and $1.7 billion in direct payments to governments.

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