Tribal gaming growth report ranks Wyoming near top

Dec 23, 2009 8:04 PM

A 53 percent increase of gaming machines at Wyoming’s Indian casinos helped propel the state to the fourth fastest growth in terms of 2008 gambling revenue, a report on American Indian gaming says.

The Indian Gaming Industry Report released last month by Nathan Associates Inc. found Wyoming’s 39 percent increase in revenue trailed only Alaska, Alabama and Nebraska.

The 150-page report did not include specific revenue figures for Wyoming and some other states due to confidentiality restrictions.

The report said the number of gaming machines at Wyoming’s Indian casinos increased 53 percent to 1,245 in 2008, because of the opening of a new casino and more machines at existing facilities.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe last year opened its flagship Wind River Casino, adding to its gaming operations that already include the 789 Casino and Smoke Shop and the Little Wind Casino in Ethete.

“The introductions of new gaming facilities drove a lot of growth in the fastest growing states,” the report said.

The report notes that Wyoming and other fast growing states were generally small revenue generating states with more room to grow.

Overall, the report said the nation’s Indian casino industry took in $26.8 billion in 2008 gaming revenue. That’s a 1.5 percent increase over 2007’s $26.4 billion.

The report noted the faltering economy is likely behind what was described as a small increase in revenue compared with previous years.

“The economic downturn is even taking its toll on Indian gaming, which has historically performed better than most other segments of the gaming industry,” the report said.

The report predicts growth for Wyoming’s Indian gaming industry.

“Wyoming is likely to see continued growth for the near future as new gaming facilities develop in a very young market,” the report said.