MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Back now with DAY TO DAY. Business is booming at Native American casinos. A new report shows the Indian gaming industry is growing a lot faster than other commercial gaming operations. Joining us with more is Bob Moon from the MARKETPLACE bureau in New York. And Bob, just how much money are Native American tribes taking in from casinos?
BOB MOON reporting:
Well, Madeleine, this new Indian gaming industry report, it's assembled by an economist with the analysis group in Los Angeles. And it finds that gambling revenue at these Indian casinos nationwide grew by about 15 percent to almost $23 billion last year. That growth in revenue was almost three times faster than the commercial counterparts in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and other parts of the country that allow gaming. Nationwide, the growth rate was better than 15 percent as I mentioned, and that's despite the fact there were no major new Indian casinos that opened last year. And this is the 11th straight year of 15 percent growth or better for these Indian casinos.
BRAND: Three times faster. Why?
MOON: That's a good question. It's not directly addressed in this report, but the authors do say that the Indian casinos are growing fast because they're offering new kinds of games. They're stepping up marketing, and they're adding Las Vegas-style amenities to attract more business. There's also the benefit, I might add, of location, location, location here. These 420 Indian casinos are spread out across 30 states, so they're more convenient for people to get to. The commercial counterparts, by the way, they had revenue growth of about four and a half percent - around $30 billion they took in - compared to $23 billion for the Indian casinos.
BRAND: And are just a few tribes benefiting, or is the money being spread out?
MOON: Actually, California accounted for almost a third of the money last year. Fifty-five tribes operate 57 casinos in the Golden State, and California's tribes enjoyed a revenue growth of around 24 percent - about $7.2 billion overall just in California. Now there are some revenue-sharing agreements among the tribes, so the money does get spread out to some degree.
BRAND: Well, speaking of revenue-sharing, does any of the money go to the state governments where the casinos are located?
MOON: Yeah, this report says total tax revenue from Indian gaming was about $7 billion last year. And when you factor in the revenue sharing of $913 million from agreements with the various states, the gross fiscal impact to state and local governments is about $8 billion overall. Now there are some officials who do say some of the problems created by these casinos just about outweigh that.
And today in the MARKETPLACE newsroom, we're in contact with a reporter in Cape Town who's covering the Chinese prime minister's visit there, checking out how it may threaten American interests.
BRAND: Thank you, Bob. Bob Moon of public radio's daily business show, MARKETPLACE. It's produced by American Public Media.
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