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US tribal gaming revenue hits record $39bn in 2021


Tribal gaming operations in the US brought in a record $39bn (£33bn/€39bn) during 2021, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The total was a 40% increase over 2020, while it was 13% more than in 2019, before the impact of Covid-19.

As well as the revenue total reaching record heights, the year-on-year increase was also the largest on record.

However, National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) chairman Sequoyah Simermeyer noted that many tribes still had a difficult year, and said the organisation would continue to support tribes that have struggled.

“NIGC recognizes this year’s rebound has not been felt equally by all tribes,” he said. “We are committed to helping all tribal operations benefit from the regulatory lessons learned over the past two years.” 

“As we seek to build the regulatory workforce’s preparedness, all parts of the Indian gaming industry have a responsibility to learn from the experiences of tribes who have forged the path so we preserve those lessons and ensure we retain that knowledge for generations to come.”

Meanwhile, vice chair Jeannie Hovland, noted that the record figure was achieved due to successful performances by a large number of different tribal gaming operators, rather than a few dominant tribes.

“The industry has much to celebrate and be proud of.” Hovland said. “With 43 gaming operations reporting GGR greater than $250m and accounting for more than 50% of total revenues, this year’s revenues underscore the wide diversity in gaming operations across Indian country.”

The figure compared to the $53bn brought in by commercial gaming operators during the year, meaning the US non-lottery industry as a whole brought in $92bn. During 2020, tribal gaming revenue had exceeded commercial gaming for the firs time, with both sectors affected by Covid-19 lockdowns.

The NIGC’s figures are calculated from the financial statements of 510 gaming operations owned by 243 federally recognized tribes.