According to a new Fitch Ratings report, the Northern California casino market will continue to slog through the economic downtown for another six months, but the prognosis brightens by the middle of 2010.
"I think the reality of the situation is that we are suffering from the sluggish economy just like every other business is," Peter Fordham, general manager of Red Hawk Casino, told the Sacramento Business Journal. "We knew when we opened (ten months ago) that the economic times were not the healthiest," Fordham said. But he’s also optimistic the market will rebound.
"There is plenty of business to go around. There just isn’t quite as much as there was before the recession hit," he said.
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Native American casinos in the U.S. produced $27 billion business last year, Fitch said. California’s $7.4 billion share of that ranks second only to Nevada’s $11.6 billion.
California gambling revenue climbed to a peak of $7.8 billion in 2007, according to National Indian Gaming Commission, but slipped by about 5 percent last year.
The good news for the tribes is that many came into the recession with healthy balance sheets and low debt, the Fitch report said. The overall outlook is that "California’s tribal casinos will remain extremely profitable operations based upon their favorable geographic locations in very lucrative regional gaming markets," the report said.
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