Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Ranks 2nd in Indian Gaming

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Ranks 2nd in Indian Gaming

Article excerpt

Oklahoma's growing Indian gaming revenues have bumped the state up to second in the country behind California, according to the annual Indian Gaming Industry Report released Thursday.

"I could sort of see that coming," said Alan Meister, an economist with Nathan Associates Inc. and author of the study. "Despite the recession in 2008, Indian gaming in Oklahoma did very well ... partly because Oklahoma was not impacted as much by the economy, but also because of the way Indian gaming continues to evolve in the state."

Oklahoma's Indian casinos overtook Connecticut with $2.9 billion in revenue in 2008, the latest full year of data available, Meister said, while California led the nation at $7.3 billion.

California and Oklahoma together generated 38 percent of total gaming revenue at Indian gaming facilities in 2008. Nationwide, Indian gaming revenue grew 1.5 percent from 2007 to 2008, the slowest growth in its reported history, bringing the total gaming revenue for Indian operations to about $26.8 billion.

But that growth was respectable, Meister said, given the downturn in the economy and the decline in the commercial segment of the gaming industry. And it's still better than the commercial casino sector, which saw revenue drop by about 7 percent.

Nationwide, tribes operated 442 casinos in 28 states last year, up from 429 in 2007. Much of the revenue increase came from Oklahoma, which added nine new gambling halls and renovated others. Another state posting significant revenue growth was Florida, where the Seminole Tribe added different machines and table games such as blackjack to its existing casinos.

"The overall process of new and expanding facility continues to add Class III games, which tend to be better than Class II in revenues, and the improvement in nongaming amenities," Meister said. …

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