Non-Tribal Gaming Gains

The U.S. casino business is thriving, with Indian venues taking in more money than ever in 2012, and revenue rising even faster at non-tribal casinos for the first time in nearly 20 years, according to a report released March 25.  

Photo: AP Photo
Hollywood Casino in Columbus, Ohio, is among four voter-approved casinos in that state on track for combined revenues of nearly $900 million during the first full year of operation.

Casino City, which publishes gaming industry information, said the continuing weak economy and increased competition from commercial gaming operations still put a bit of a brake on tribal revenue while more non-tribal casinos and racetrack-based racinos have opened.

Racinos have outgrown tribal gaming in 16 of the last 19 years, and commercial casino revenue jumped 4 percent in 2012.

“That was definitely something different,” said Alan Meister, author of the report.

In Ohio alone, four voter-approved casinos opened and are on track to generate nearly $900 million in revenue in their first full year of operation.

Indian casino revenue growth in 2012 slowed to 2 percent, at $28.1 billion, down from 3.4 percent in the previous year and half the pre-recession rate of 4 percent in 2007.

Revenue increased at 66 percent of Indian facilities, with a surge of as much as 20 percent in Alaskan casinos and a steep 8 percent drop at Connecticut’s two tribal businesses.

After Alaska, states that posted the fastest revenue growth were South Dakota, Montana, Alabama and Texas.

The slowest-growth states, after Connecticut, were Mississippi, Colorado, Idaho and New York.

Revenue rose 1 percent by $7 billion in California, which accounted for 25 percent of U.S. gambling revenue generated at 68 Indian casinos.

With Oklahoma, home to 118 gambling facilities, revenue in the two states accounted for 38 percent of tribal casino revenue nationwide.

Revenue has grown steadily at tribal casinos, from $121 million in 1988 to more than $28 billion in 2012. But with casino growth, revenue that surged by as much as 148 percent in 1989 has sputtered, dropping below 10 percent each year beginning in 2007.