Indian casinos rake in $19 billion last year - Sunday 12th of June 2005

The 405 Indian-owned casinos in the United States won $19 billion last year from gamblers -- $8.5 billion more than all of Nevada's gaming resorts.

An annual report on the status of Indian gambling was released today (Wednesday) by Alan P. Meister, manager of Analysis Group, Inc., of Los Angeles.

The report said that gaming revenue was up 12 percent from 2003.

"While the growth of Indian gaming remained strong nationwide, it slipped somewhat off its 2003 pace when gaming revenue grew 14.3 percent.

"This marked the third consecutive year with a decreasing growth rate and an indication that Indian gaming is maturing in some states," said the report. But it said Indian gaming is still increasing at a faster percentage than commercial casinos, said Meister.

The American Gaming Association, in its report released this week, said the 445 commercial casinos in 11 states generated nearly $29 billion in gross revenue, a 7 percent increase from 2003.

Meister said that Indian gambling is closing the gap on commercial casinos. In 2001, Indian casinos made only 50 percent of what the commercial gambling businesses won, he said.

The 56 casinos in California had the highest win among the 30 states with Indian casinos. They reported $5.3 billion compared to the Nevada casino win of $10.5 billion in 2004.

The three Indian-operated casinos in Nevada had a gross win of $52 million. The Nevada tribal casinos have 940 slot machines and 30 table games.

Meister said that Indian casinos in only four states reported a decline in revenues: Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi and South Carolina.

His report said that Indian gaming directly supported 277,000 jobs and provided about $8.8 billion in wages last year.

In contrast, the American Gaming Association said casino employees nationwide numbered 349,210 and collected $12.1 billion in wages.

The association reported the top commercial gaming markets were the Las Vegas Strip at $5.3 billion in gross win in 2004 followed by Atlantic City at $4.8 billion and Chicago at $2.3 billion. The Reno-Sparks market was eighth nationally with $903.5 million in gross win. The Boulder Strip was 12th grossing $791.6 million according to the association.

The association said that polling data showed that more than half of all adult Americans played the lottery in the past year. And 35 percent took part in casino gambling; 18 percent in playing poker; 6 percent on horse race betting and 2 percent on Internet betting.

Last year commercial U.S. casinos paid $4.7 billion in taxes to state and local governments. Nevada led the nation in taxes collected with $887 million, followed by Illinois at $801.7 million and Indiana at $760.5 million.

Meister said tribes contributed $900 million last year in "revenue sharing agreements" with state and local governments.

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