NIGC praises ‘healthy tribal economies’ but issues 2020 caution

The National Indian Gaming Commission has issued caution on its 2020 fiscal year report, as revenue for FY2019 is reported to have surged 2.5 per cent year-on-year to $34.6bn.

The figure represents the Indian gaming industry’s highest ever revenue report in the 32 years since the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted.

“Healthy tribal economies are important to promoting the tribal self-sufficiency envisioned in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,” stated E Sequoyah Simermeyer, chairperson of the NIGC.

“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.”

Calculated from 522 independently audited financial statements submitted to the NIGC by 245 federally recognised tribes across 29 states, the Oklahoma City region is reported to have recorded the largest increase, coming in at 7.7 per cent.

Isom-Clause, vice chair of the NIGC, added: “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.”

However, due to the forced temporary closure of every tribal gaming operation, the NIGC warns that the pandemic’s impact will be reflected in the FY2020 GGR report. 

It adds that “although the full effect of the pandemic is yet to be realised,” a number of Indian gaming operations remain closed or operate at a reduced capacity.

Simermeyer cautioned: “It is important to recognise the pandemic’s impact on Tribes. 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.”