California tribal casinos earn most in U.S - Sunday 12th of June 2005

The nation's 405 Indian casinos generated about $19 billion in gross revenues last year, a 12 percent increase over 2003, according to a report released Wednesday by a private financial analyst.

California continued to far outpace any other state in the number of tribal casinos and their revenue, according to economist Alan Meister of the Analysis Group, a Los Angeles-based financial consulting firm.

California's 56 Indian casinos grossed about $5.3 billion in 2004, more than twice the gross revenue of the next-highest state, Connecticut, where two huge tribal casinos generated $2.2 billion, Meister reported. Those casinos are the largest in the world.

A casino's gross revenue, also known as net win, is total wagers minus payouts. A Copley News Service analysis of California Indian gaming concluded in 2003 that the state's casinos were taking in at least $6 billion.

San Diego County, with nine tribal casinos, is California's most prolific Indian gaming region. Two more casinos are scheduled to open by next year on reservations in the county's northern and eastern backcountry.

Meister found that although California leads the nation in Indian gaming revenue, the pace of revenue growth slowed markedly from 2003, when many new tribal casinos were opening and others were expanding. The 2004 figure of $5.3 billion represented a 13.3 percent increase over the previous year, compared with a 27.8 percent increase in 2003 from 2002.

Nationwide, Indian casinos directly and indirectly contributed $52.3 billion to the U.S. economy in 2004, Meister concluded. They were responsible for 539,000 jobs, $19.4 billion in wages, $6.2 billion in local and state taxes and $900 million in state revenue-sharing funds.

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