Tribal Casinos Set Revenue Mark Amid Rebound From Virus-Related Closures
The casino industry’s continued recovery from closures related to COVID-19 is reflected in a record fiscal year at more than 500 casinos run by Native Americans.
Tribal casinos combined for just over $39 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the 2021 fiscal year, breaking the record by about $4.5 billion, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) reported.
The 2019 Tribal casino revenue had held the record at $34.58 billion.
Shutdowns Were a Learning Experience
“NIGC recognizes this year’s rebound has not been felt equally by all tribes. We are committed to helping all tribal operations benefit from the regulatory lessons learned over the past two years,” NIGC Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer said in a news release. “…All parts of the Indian gaming industry have a responsibility to learn from the experiences of tribes who have forged the path so we preserve those lessons and ensure we retain that knowledge for generations to come.”
The exact amount of revenue for the 2021 fiscal year was $39,025,585, a 40.2% increase from the $27.83 billion reported in FY 2020, according to data at the National Indian Gaming Commission website.
Last year’s total was also a 12.9% increase from 2019. The 2021 figures resumed a pattern for Tribal casinos; 2019 marked the 10th consecutive year in which the Tribal gaming industry reset the record for best GGR in a fiscal year.
But in 2020, Tribal casinos as well as commercial casinos joined so many other businesses in shutting down or operating with reduced hours – often doing the former and then the latter upon reopening – and as a result the 2020 casino revenue at Tribal facilities was down 19.5% from the record level of 2019.
Breaking Down Tribal Revenue Figures
In the 2021 fiscal year there were 43 Tribal casinos that reported at least $250 million in revenue, featuring such gaming options as roulette and other popular table games and card games. Those facilities, just 8.4% of the national total, accounted for 52% of the revenue – more than $20.4 billion of it.
Another 61 Tribal casinos reported between $100 million and $250 million in revenue, for a total of $10.1 billion, or about 26% of the national total. According to the NIGC, the 2021 fiscal year figures were tabulated from 510 audited financial statements representing 243 Tribes.
The casinos are divided into eight Tribal regions. The region reporting the highest revenue total was the Sacramento Region, with $11.9 billion. The Rapid City Region is the smallest and was the only one under $1 billion; however, that region reported the best percentage jump from 2020. The Rapid City Region went from $238.6 million in combined revenue for 2020 to $372 million last year, a 56% increase.
Most wagering at native-run casinos is done in person, as only six states have made online gambling sites legal.
Jim Tomlin has more than 30 years of experience in sports journalism as an editor and writer. He has covered pro and college sports from football, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, motorsports and more for publications such as the Tampa Bay Times, SaturdayDownSouth.com, SaturdayTradition.com and FanRag Sports. He now lends his expertise to TopUSCasinos.com, among other duties.