Wisconsin’s tribal casinos rake in $1 billion in 2004 - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Native American-owned casinos in Wisconsin brought in $1 billion last year, according to a report released Wednesday, the fifth most of states with tribal gambling revenue in 2004, and a 1.3 percent increase over 2003.

However, the amount of casino gaming revenues tribes shared with the state of Wisconsin increased by more than 300 percent, the largest in the country, according to the fourth annual Indian Gaming Industry Report, compiled by Alan Meister, an economist at the Analysis Group, a Los Angeles consulting group.

In all, tribes nationwide shared $900 million, an increase of 23 percent over 2003.

The Oneida Tribe of Indians paid the state $20 million last year as part of its gaming compact.

Revenues at Native American-owned casinos nationwide jumped nearly 12 percent last year. Tribal casinos have blossomed into a $19 billion a year industry from virtually nothing 15 years ago, according to Meister’s report. That is more than Americans spend yearly for movie tickets or sports equipment.

But fewer new gambling dollars have shown up in Michigan, Wisconsin and other states where tribal casinos have operated for years, Meister said. Even in Connecticut, home of the nation’s two largest Indian casinos, growth has slowed and competition is springing up in nearby states, he said.

The key element is that most Indian gaming is from the local market, and you can saturate local markets,? said William Thompson, a gambling expert at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The growth is tied to new establishments.?

Renegotiated casino pacts took effect in Wisconsin last year, pushing the amount of money state and local governments were paid in revenue sharing deals to $68 million, compared with $16.7 million in 2003, the report said.

Federal law says states cannot tax tribes because they are sovereign governments, but tribes that want to sign deals to establish casinos are increasingly offering to share their revenue in exchange for more games and longer deals. Meister said some tribes have come to resent legislators who rely on tribal revenue sharing for their state budgets.

Every new agreement is involving some sort of revenue sharing (with the state),? Meister said. I don’t think necessarily that all tribes are against it, but it’s got to be a win-win relationship.?

The Forest County Potawatomi saw its revenue-sharing payments to the state increase to $40.5 million last year from $6.4 million in 2003. Tribal Attorney General Jeff Crawford said they pay three to four times the corporate tax rate, making it one of the state’s biggest taxpayers.

Legislators have high expectations for receiving money from the tribes, even though the intent of (the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) is to provide for the financial needs of the tribes, not the states or local governments,? he said. We want to be good neighbors, but we don’t want to be taken advantage of, just like the average taxpayer doesn’t want to be taken advantage of.?

The future of payments from the 11 tribes that operate 28 casinos in Wisconsin is in jeopardy after the state Supreme Court ruled last year that Gov. Jim Doyle overstepped his authority in signing the new deals, which had no expiration date and which allowed for new table games such as craps and roulette. The state and the tribes remain in negotiations.

The health of Native American tribes and their gaming activities will remain vital to the state’s economy, according to state Administration Secretary Marc Marotta, who was in Ashwaubenon on Monday for the National Congress of American Indians mid-year gathering.

Wisconsin tribes and their businesses are responsible for about 30,000 jobs across the state,? Marotta told more than 250 delegates. If you take the indirect effect, the vendors that are tied to those businesses, the impact is even more than that.?

Ernest Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association and a former Oneida Nation of Wisconsin business committee member, said the success of Indian gaming encompasses more than individual tribes. Across the country, we have 553,000 jobs in Indian gaming. Of those, 75 percent are non-Indian,? Stevens said.

Marotta said people need to realize that state tribes, including the Oneidas, who paid the state $20 million each of the last two years from gaming revenues, help the state deal with an ongoing budget deficit.

Beyond that, they provide a great deal of support for our civic and charitable organizations,? he said.

More than 1,000 Native Americans from around the country will be at the National Congress of American Indians mid-year gathering that runs through today. On the agenda is discussion of national and local issues that face tribes. This is the first time in a decade the event has come to the Green Bay area.

Marotta is pushing the Potawatomi to make a $43.6 million payment due June 30 after the state Supreme Court ruled last year that Doyle overstepped his authority by signing gaming compacts with the tribe and the Ho-Chunk.

The Ho-Chunk last year declined to make their $30 million payment and likely will hold back payment in 2005. The state is negotiating new compacts with both tribes. There are 17 casinos in Wisconsin run by the state’s 11 tribes.

Meister said he expects Indian gambling to continue at a brisk pace. The report said tribal casino income grew at nearly two times the rate of commercial, or non-Indian casinos in 2004.

Economically this has been sort of a win-win-win and it seems to be working for more tribes, Meister said.

Other news from around the same time

Company to face scrutiny - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Long after Harrah's Entertainment Inc. closes its purchase of Caesars Entertainment Inc. -- expected....


China's strategy is to turn Macau into the Las Vegas of Asia, according to a report by Hong Kong-bas....

Harrah's Completes Mega-Merger With Caesars - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Harrah's Entertainment buy-out of Caesars Entertainment officially closed Monday. Harrah's is once a....

Rock music calms casino job seekers - Sunday 12th of June 2005

The people in the long line outside the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on Monday morning weren't there t....

Casino Regina Will Host Canada's Largest Poker Tournament - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS -News) announced today that the Company retired all of its outstandi....

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Retires Sands Macao Casino Debt Early - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS -News) announced today that the Company retired all of its outstandi....

Harrah's closes merger with rival Caesars - Sunday 12th of June 2005

"We are pleased to bring our two great companies together," Gary Loveman, chairman and chi....

Grand mother smiling at 70 - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Dee Evans, a witty redhead with sparkling eyes, doesn't look like she's been dealing cards for 49 ye....

6,000-ton casino boat afloat - Sunday 12th of June 2005

A new $163 million Blue Chip Casino boat, weighing more than 6,000 tons, should be ready for gambler....

Fred Done gambling on 'sexy' casino venture - Sunday 12th of June 2005

BOOKMAKER Done Brothers is making a multi-million pound drive into the online gaming sector.Fred Don....