Tribal gaming operations approached $41bn in gross gaming revenue last year, the highest in the industry’s history and another sign of a substantial rebound from the scourge of COVID-19 in 2020.
Combined with $60.4bn produced by the commercial gaming industry in 2022, Indian gaming pushed total revenue for all U.S. gaming operations beyond the $100bn threshold for the first time.
Sequoyah Simermeyer, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), praised gaming tribes for their production, but added a note of caution.
“The industry needs to be acutely aware of the increasing complexity of cyber threats as Indian gaming grows in its application of sports betting … and mobile gaming,” Simermeyer said during a news conference on Wednesday (July 19) at Winstar, the largest casino in the United States in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Winstar is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation and located near the border between Oklahoma and Texas.
Simermeyer said there is a chance the NIGC may work with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the future on internet gambling, particularly after the June 30 court decision upholding an online gaming compact negotiated between the Seminole Tribe and Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
The $40.9bn total last year amounted to a 4.9 percent increase over Indian gaming revenue in 2021.
Compared with the COVID-19 plagued year of 2020 when tribal gaming revenue dipped to $27.8bn, this year’s total amounted to a 38.6 percent increase.
Seven of the eight Indian gaming regions increased revenue in 2022, and the highest increase of 15.7 percent occurred in the region including Phoenix, Arizona.
The only region that did not increase revenue included Sacramento, California.
Yvonne Lee, the chief financial officer for the NIGC, attributed the decrease in the Sacramento region to closures and renovations.
“The 1.4 [percent] decrease is really insignificant and should not raise any red flags about that region’s overall performance,” Lee said.
For example, Lee said, Sacramento showed the lowest decrease of 13 percent for all eight Indian gaming regions during the COVID-19 pandemic year of 2020.
The NIGC’s report on tribal gaming revenue last year is based on independently audited financial statements of 519 gaming operations owned by 244 federally-recognized tribes.
The Indian gaming industry manages operations in 29 states.