Soaring Revenues Leave COVID-19 In Rear View Mirror Of Gaming Tribes

August 11, 2022
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The Indian tribal gaming industry produced $39bn in gross gaming revenue in fiscal 2021, a new record and a 43 percent increase since 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Indian tribal gaming industry produced $39bn in gross gaming revenue in fiscal 2021, a new record and a 43 percent increase since 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 total reflected a 12 percent increase above the previous record of $34.6bn set in 2019, the year before the pandemic struck.

“It is a testament to the industry’s resilience and stands as a clear signal Indian gaming can preserve its rebound,” E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), said in a taped announcement on Wednesday (August 10).

Although tribes became more active in the sports-betting market in 2021, Simermeyer told reporters the data collected by the NIGC does not break down how much money comes from wagers on sporting events.

The commercial gaming industry also set a new record in gross gaming revenue in 2021 with a total of $53bn announced in February by the American Gaming Association.

The NIGC disclosed the tribal gaming numbers during the annual conference and trade show of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Even including the dip in the pandemic year of 2020, which broke an eight-year streak of revenue increases, tribal gaming operations generated $167.5bn in the last five years for an annual average of $33.5bn.

Yvonne Lee, the chief financial office of the NIGC, said the 2021 revenue totals are based on 510 audited financial statements from 243 tribes in 29 states.

More than 52 percent of the revenue, or about $250m, came from just 8 percent of the tribes.

“Not all gaming operations saw as great of a rebound in revenue,” said Jeannie Hovland, vice chair of the NIGC.

“Location, regional dynamics around competition and other regional economic characteristics like workforce and tourism opportunities can all shape operators’ individual strategies and the pace of recovery.”

All eight Indian gaming regions under the NIGC’s jurisdiction showed revenue increases in 2021.

The region including Rapid City, South Dakota, saw the largest percentage increase of 56 percent to more than $372m.

The Sacramento region, which includes all of California and northern Nevada, led all regions in revenue with $11.9bn, a 42 percent increase since 2020.

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