Tribal casinos rake in $23B

Jun 27, 2006 5:57 AM

Gambling revenue at Indian casinos nationwide grew to nearly $23 billion last year, climbing at a rate more than three times faster than traditional gaming operations.

California tribes led the way, accounting for nearly one-third of all revenue, according to the Indian Gaming Industry Report.

Nationally, tribal gaming revenue grew by 15.6 percent in 2005, even though no major casinos opened last year. It was the tenth consecutive year that revenues increased by at least 15 percent.

California tribes saw revenue climb by 24 percent to $7.2 billion. The state has 55 tribes operating 57 casinos. That rate of growth isn’t likely to slow any time soon, according to Alan Meister of Los Angeles-based Analysis Group, which issued the report.

The reason? Tribes are expanding their offerings with Las Vegas-style amenities, and their marketing them through stepped-up campaigns.

In California, those amenities include five-star hotels, spas and golf courses, to name a few.

Moreover, there are proposals for at least 47 new Indian casinos in California, though regulatory changes at the federal level could stall construction.

Although California still accounts for the largest share of Indian gambling revenue, Nebraska led all states in growth at 228 percent, after adding a third casino and other offerings at existing facilities.

The Indian Gaming Industry Report is one of the most comprehensive in the industry. Meister uses date from government agencies, Indian tribes and casinos, gambling associations and other studies, as well as some proprietary financial data that tribes are not required to report publicly.