Robust Year for Indian Gaming in 2017

NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri

Indian gaming saw a 3.9% increase to a record $32.4 million in fiscal 2017 gross revenues at 494 gaming operations among 242 federally recognized tribes in 29 states, the National Indian Gaming Commission has reported.

In the past four years, according to NIGC, gaming revenue has jumped 15 percent, from $28 billion in fiscal 2013 to 2017’s $32.4 billion. In fiscal 2015, revenues rose five percent, from $28.5 billion to $29.9 billion.

By regions, only Rapid City reported a drop, and even there the 2.7% falloff in FY 2017 was considerably less than the decline the previous year, which was 8.9 percent.

Courtesy NIGC

Courtesy NIGC

Sacramento registered the largest increase for 2017. It was up 7.3 percent over 2016. Portland saw the next highest rise, at 6.5 percent. Then came Tulsa (4.2 percent), Phoenix (3.6 percent), Oklahoma City (2.1 percent), St. Paul (1.7 percent) and Washington, DC (one percent).

In terms of dollars, Sacramento took in the most at $9 billion from 74 operations. Next was Washington, DC, with $7.3 billion from 37. After that were St. Paul ($4.6 billion), Portland ($3.4 billion), Phoenix ($3 billion), Tulsa ($2.4 billion), Oklahoma City ($2.3 billion), and Rapid City ($400 million).

There were ten more gaming operations submittinging to NIGC in 2017, at 494 compared to 484 for fiscal 2016.

The 33 gaming operations with more than $250 million in revenue brought in $15 billion, or 46 percent of the total. Next was the $100-$250 million category, at $9 billion from 56 operations, representing 28 percent of gross gaming revenues. The category with the largest number of operations was the smallest, those with $3 million or less in revenues. There were 103 operations in this category.

NIGC chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, a member of the Muscogee Creek nation, told a press conference where the gaming numbers were announced that “The economic health of gaming remains strong.” He noted that this year’s revenues represented “the highest gross gaming revenues on record, outpacing inflation and real GDP growth.”

Vice chair Kathryn Isom-Clause, Taos Pueblo, noted that this year, NIGC has split its Rapid City office from the St. Paul region to be its own region, to increase outreach to rural tribes.

She said that 74 of the operations posted a year-over-year growth of at least 10 percent.

“These numbers reflect the industry’s health as a stable economic driver for Indian Country,” she said.

This year represents the 30th anniversary of gaming operations under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The gross gaming revenue for an operation is the amount wagered minus winnings returned to players. It represents earnings before salaries, tribal-state compacts, and operating expenses.

2017 Gross Gaming Revenue Trends (Courtesy NIGC)

2017 Gross Gaming Revenue Trends (Courtesy NIGC)