ational Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer and Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause said Tuesday that gross gaming revenues for the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) in the Indian gaming industry total $34.6B, an increase of 2.5% over 2018.
In the 32 years since the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted, 2019 marked the Indian gaming industry’s highest ever revenue report. During FY19, nearly every NIGC region experienced growth. The Oklahoma City region saw the largest increase of 7.7%.
“Healthy tribal economies are important to promoting the tribal self-sufficiency envisioned in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The growth reflected in the 2019 gaming revenue demonstrates the strength of tribal economies in recent years. The Indian gaming industry is a vital component to many tribal economies across the country,” Chairman Simermeyer said in a press release.
The reporting period for FY19 ended before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the temporary closure of every tribal gaming operation. Although the full effect of the pandemic is yet to be realized, many Indian gaming operations remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. Some Indian gaming operations have been closed since March 2020. The pandemic’s impact on the Indian gaming industry will be reflected in the Fiscal Year 2020 GGR report.
“It is important to recognize the Pandemic’s impact on Tribes,” Simermeyer cautioned, and he added: “Tribes’ dedication to a safe and sustainable Indian gaming industry is demonstrated in the preventative measures Tribes continue to take during the challenging economic times brought on by the Pandemic. This same dedication has fostered a successful and responsibly regulated Indian gaming industry over several decades.”
Vice Chair Isom-Clause said: “While we welcome this positive report from FY2019, we know that the current reality is dramatically different. Future reports will reflect the effects of the pandemic on the industry, as well as how it continues to adapt to changing circumstances. Despite these current hardships, Indian gaming, like the tribal nations it benefits, has proved its resiliency over the years.”
The FY19 GGR figure is calculated from 522 independently audited financial statements submitted to the NIGC by 245 federally recognized Tribes across 29 states. An operation’s GGR is the total amount of money wagered less any amounts paid out as prizes and before deducting operating expenses. Additional information and a summary of gross gaming revenue according to the NIGC’s administratively determined regions can be found on the NIGC’s website.