Indian casinos set new revenue record, topping $28.13 billion

26 March 2014

Three years after the nation’s Indian casino industry experienced its only annual gaming revenue decline in the 24 years since figures have been kept, the market is on an upswing.

For the second straight year, Indian casinos nationwide combined for a new annual gaming revenue record, topping $28.13 billion in 2012.

The 2 percent increase was a lower percentage jump than in 2011 when Indian casinos nationwide grew revenues 3.4 percent, to $27.59 billion. That’s a cause for concern, said California economist Alan Meister, who compiles the figures for Casino City’s annual Indian Gaming Industry Report.

“It was the third straight year of positive growth, which is a movement in the right direction,” Meister said. “But it reflected the slower growth of the economy.”

It takes a year for Meister to get the revenue figures from the 28 states with Indian casinos. Tribal casinos don’t publicly release monthly gaming revenue totals like Nevada and other states with commercial casinos. The report is being released today through Casino City.

Meister said Indian casinos — which traditionally recorded double-digit percentage revenue increases annually until 2007 — grew at a slower pace than the commercial casino industry (4 percent in 2012) and the race track casino market (8 percent in 2012).

In the report, Meister writes that it has been 18 years since commercial casinos had a higher annual growth rate than the Indian casino segment.

He said the trend could have been the result of increased gaming opportunities in several states that year.

“Gaming developed in additional jurisdictions, such as Ohio, while older markets added new facilities,” Meister said.

Also in 2012, there were 468 tribal casinos, one more than in 2011. Indian casinos operated 346,242 slot machines in 2012, a 1.6 percent increase from 2011, and 7,768 table games, a decline of less than 1 percent.

California, which had 68 Indian casinos in 2012, the same as in the previous two years, collected a nation-high $6.96 billion in gaming revenue in 2012, an increase of 0.8 percent.

Oklahoma, the nation’s No. 2 Indian gaming market, collected $3.7 billion in 2012 — an increase of 6.6 percent — from 118 large and small casinos.

California and Oklahoma generated 38 percent of the overall Indian gaming revenue in the U.S. The top five states — California, Oklahoma, Washington, Florida and Connecticut — accounted for 60 percent of the nation’s gaming revenue.

The top 10 Indian gaming states — which included Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York in sixth through 10th place — did not change in ranking from 2011. The top 10 states accounted for 86 percent of the nation’s Indian gaming revenue.

Indian casinos made 43 percent of all U.S. casino gaming revenue in 2012.

Meister said California’s growth rate was slower than in 2011, but tribes were expanding and developing their facilities.

Meister said developments in California that took place in 2013 and are planned for this year could expand beyond its current 25 percent grip on all Indian gaming revenue nationwide.

According to the study, Indian casinos — including the properties’ nongaming operations — directly and indirectly generated $91 billion in output, employed more than 679,000 workers, paid $30 billion in wages, and contributed $9 billion in taxes and revenue-sharing payments to federal, state, and local governments.

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