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Indian Gaming Saw Record Revenues in 2015 to Become Top Casino Sector

American Indian gaming revenue zoomed in 2015, growing at a rate more than double that seen in 2014 and surpassing all other segments of the casino industry

American Indian gaming revenue zoomed in 2015, growing at a rate more than double that of 2014 and surpassing all other segments of the casino industry, according to a new Indian gaming almanac.

Casino City’s Indian Gaming Industry Report for 2017 said the rate of revenue growth in 2015 (the latest year covered) was 5.5 percent, compared to two percent in 2014. The $30.5 billion in revenues achieved in 2015 was a record for the industry.

The annual gaming almanac, written by Dr. Alan Meister, noted 2016 was the sixth straight year of recovery for the industry, which was hit hard by the recession of 2008.

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Revenue from non-gaming services also hit a record high in 2015, coming in at a growth of 4.5 percent to $3.9 billion for the year.

Taken together, the scorecard for gaming in 2015 was $34.4 billion at 242 tribes, coming from 357,000 gaming machines and 7,700 table games. There was a total of 494 Indian gaming facilities in 28 states.

“Indian gaming’s growth outpaced that of the national economy,” Dr. Meister wrote. United States GDP (gross domestic product) rose 2.5 percent, and disposable personal income was up 3.1 percent.

“Indian gaming also outperformed other casino gaming segments to become the largest industry segment,” according to Dr. Meister. Commercial casinos grew 1.6 percent to $29.8 billion, while the racino segment grew 4.2 percent to $8.5 billion.

By share of the casino market, Indian gaming had 44.3 percent in 2015, with commercial casinos showing 43.3 percent and racinos 12.4 percent.

Not all of the states that have Indian gaming experienced an increase that year. The range spanned Texas, which was up 16 percent, to Wyoming, down 14 percent. But most states, 24 of 28, showed an increase. Nevada, Connecticut and New York were the other three states with declines.

California, the largest Indian gaming state, by itself generated 26 percent of nationwide Indian gaming, and it had a hefty increase of eight percent in revenues, bringing it to nearly $8 billion for the year. That was nearly double the size of the next-largest state, Oklahoma.

The top five Indian gaming states produced 63 percent of revenue in 2015. Florida, Washington and Arizona were third through fifth, according to the almanac.

The largest gaming facilities continued to hold big amounts of market share, with the top seven percent of operations producing 45 percent of all revenue. Each of the facilities in the top seven had at least $250 million in revenues.

Class III gaming claimed 98 percent of all revenues. Class II had just a two percent share, but showed a big increase for the year, up 12 percent in Class II-only states.

Dr. Meister’s figures showed a $103 billion output in value of sales (direct and indirect) on the United States economy from Indian gaming in 2015. The industry provided 770,000 jobs, $35.5 billion in wages, and $12.3 billion in payments or taxes.

“Looking forward, there is a number of potential opportunities for the future growth of Indian gaming,” Dr. Meister wrote. “As the economy continues to improve it will likely lead to improved growth of Indian gaming.” However, he asserted that there are long-term challenges to industry growth, including increasing competition and maturation of gaming markets.