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US tribal gaming revenue down 19.5% in 2020 following pandemic effects


The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has recorded gross gaming revenue (GGR) figures of $27.83bn for 2020, representing a 19.5% decrease on the year prior. 

The Sacramento region, containing California and northern Nevada, was the area with the highest revenue, generating $8.40bn, although this was still a 13.2% decrease from 2019.

The Washington DC region – encompassing Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and North Carolina – was next with $5.82bn. This was followed by St. Paul – which covers Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin – with $3.73bn.

The Rapid City region, made up of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, experienced the largest revenue decrease as revenue fell by 36.6% to $238.6m.

The GGR was taken as an average from 524 independently audited financial statements selected from 248 federally recognized Tribes across 29 states.

NIGC chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer said the drop was expected given the effects of the virus.

“This gross gaming revenue decrease was expected; the unknown was just how much of an impact COVID-19 had on Indian gaming,” Simermeyer said. “Every year, the annual GGR figure tells a story about Indian gaming’s successes, contributions to Indian communities, and economic impacts. This was highlighted even more during the pandemic.

“Nevertheless, tribes were on the forefront of creating standards, developing new safety protocols, and sharing community resources. I foresee this decrease as only a temporary setback for Indian gaming.”

Commercial gaming revenue as a whole in the US decreased in 2020, dropping 31.3% to $30.00bn in accordance with the American Gaming Association.

“Despite the limits and uncertainty of the last year, it is important to focus on the sacrifices of and economic refuge provided by tribes and the community impacts,” added NIGC vice chair Jeannie Hovland.

“Tribal gaming has shown resilience and commitment, and continues to develop new roads to economic stability. I look forward to seeing Indian gaming continue to lead the way in efforts to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”