Tribal Gaming Success Impacts U.S. Economic Landscape, Coast to Coast

Thunder Valley Casino Resort, owned by the United Auburn Indian Community, near Sacramento, California

A new report shines a light on the sizeable impact of tribal gaming across the vast U.S. economic landscape. Tribal casinos are sprinkled across 28 states, and they’re keeping pace with commercial casinos. Native American gaming accounted for nearly half of all U.S. gaming revenue in 2016—the most recent year of data available from Dr. Alan P. Meister and Meister Economic Consulting. At these tourist meccas and remote destinations across the country, 676,428 workers were employed and paid total wages that exceeded $36.2 billion in 2016.

The new report, released by the American Gaming Association (AGA), details the widespread economic impression that tribal casinos make by state, “providing diverse career opportunities, supporting local businesses and generating tax revenue and revenue share payments for all levels of government,” said Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association, in a statement.

Four states exceeded $5 billion in sales during 2016: California, Oklahoma, Florida and Washington, proving that success isn’t geographically confined.

California

The report shows that California, home to 74 tribal casinos, accounted for the largest tribal gaming economic activity, jobs and tax payments in 2016. Tribal casinos added $20 billion to the Golden State’s economy, support jobs for nearly 125,000 Californians and generated $3.4 billion in taxes and revenue share payments to all levels of government.

Oklahoma

Native American-owned casinos are most prolific in Oklahoma (at 131), which generated the second-highest economic impact. Here, tribal casinos created jobs for nearly 75,000 Oklahomans, who took home more than $4.2 billion wages. Casinos in the Sooner State paid the government $1.6 billion in taxes and revenue share payments. Overall, Oklahoma tribal casinos added $9.6 billion to the state’s economy.

Florida

In the Sunshine State, home to a mere 8 tribal casinos, tribal gaming clocked in at the third-highest revenue-generating state. Florida’s 8 tribal casinos added $6.1 billion to the state’s economy, supported nearly 46,000 jobs, and generated more than $1.1 billion in state, federal and local taxes and revenue share payments.

Washington

In Washington, 31 facilities employed 35,044 workers, paying $1.95 billion in wages, and paying nearly $7.7 million in taxes and revenue share payments.

$2-$5 Billion in Total Sales

Riding their coattails, the states of Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York and Connecticut raked in between $2-$5 billion in total sales for tribal gaming.

Upper Midwest

The upper Midwest is also a hub of tribal gaming activity. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin tribal casinos combined generated nearly $1.5 billion in state, local and federal taxes and revenue share payments, supported nearly 78,000 jobs and added $10.2 billion to the states’ economies.

This is the second consecutive year that Meister Economic Consulting and the American Gaming Association have conducted a comprehensive study of the economic impact of tribal gaming.

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