The National Indian Gaming Commission has detailed the impact of the coronavirus health pandemic upon its operations, although it is acknowledged that revenue decreases were expected.

The NIGC reported revenue for the full year of $27.8bn, a decrease of 19.5 per cent over FY2019’s $34.6bn due to the pandemic’s impact on its regions.

The commission’s ‘Sacramento’ segment (California and Nevada) suffered the smallest decline in GGR of 13.2 per cent during the year to $8.4bn (FY2019: $9.7bn), narrowly ahead of Tulsa (Oklahoma and Kansas) which dropped 14.7 per cento to $2.1bn (2020: $2.46bn).

The ‘Rapid City’ region (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) experienced the largest GGR decrease of 36.6 per cent to $238.6m (FY2019: $376.5m).

This closed some distance ahead of the Phoenix division, made up of Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, which dropped 28 per cent from $3.27bn to $2.35bn.

“This gross gaming revenue decrease was expected; the unknown was just how much of an impact COVID-19 had on Indian gaming,” stated E Sequoyah Simermeyer, chair of the NIGC.

“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.”

The GGR figure is an aggregate of revenue from 524 independently audited financial statements, of 248 federally recognised tribes across 29 states. 

“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 Jeannie Hovland, vice chair of the NIGC.

“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.”