Indian gaming continues to be a strong force for tribal economic development
Published July 21, 2016
INDIO, CALIFORNIA — On Wednesday the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) released data showing revenues generated by the Indian gaming industry in 2015 totaled $29.9 billion dollars. After six years of modest, but stable growth, the 5% increase in GGR from 2014 is the largest increase in 10 years.
Chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause, and Associate Commissioner E. Sequoyah Simermeyer made the announcement from within the homelands of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.
“The strong regulation that tribes as well as federal regulators and other stake holders provides has played a key role in the stability and growth of the Indian gaming industry by providing consistency and predictability.” said the Chairman of the NIGC, Jonodev O. Chaudhuri.
The Commission also noted the role of the many small or moderately sized Indian gaming operations that support rural economic development where little else has. Only 6.5 percent of operations can show a $250 million dollar or more GGR. The majority of tribes, 57 percent, generate less than $25 million per year in gross gaming revenue. And 20 percent of the total 474 tribal gaming operations produce less than $3 million per year.
The Chairman further stated that Indian gaming is fundamentally different than commercial enterprises; it directly provides resources for Indian people including, social services, public works, education, housing, health care, emergency services, public safety and cultural presentation programs that no other economic driver has yet to provide.
The announcement was made from a location that was historically significant to the tribal gaming industry. The Commission highlighted Cabazon’s early efforts to engage in gaming as a modest means of pursuing self-sufficiency and how those efforts ultimately contributed to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of California v. Cabazon, which recognized and reaffirmed the inherent authority of tribal nations to regulate gaming activities within their communities.
“The Indian gaming industry can look back on tremendous growth and advancement. In the 30 years since the Cabazon case was argued before the Supreme Court, Indian gaming has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry annually. This is in no doubt due largely to the innovation, leadership, and positive reputation that Indian Country, in conjunction with the regulatory community, has cultivated since the advent of Indian gaming.” said Chairman Chaudhuri.
The 2015 GGR was calculated based on 474 independently audited financial statements received by 238 tribes.