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The National Indian Gaming Commission has witnessed the highest gross gaming revenue numbers in Indian gaming history as it published its fiscal year 2021 report. 

The NIGC revealed that its GGR totalled $39bn in 2021, 40 per cent higher than the year prior and a 13 per cent increase compared to figures pre-pandemic. 

Furthermore, the NIGC also stated that, alongside its GGR numbers, all of its administrative regions have shown a “positive increase” from FY 2020 – ranging from 56 per cent to 28 per cent. 

NIGC’s Chair, E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, noted: “NIGC recognises this year’s rebound has not been felt equally by all tribes. 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.”

The Commission attributed the largest increase to the greatest decrease brought on by “record level” of pandemic-related closures. However, with the pandemic still circulating, the Commission noted that Indian gaming “continues to show its resiliency” through operational advancements and “steadfast leadership” of tribal regulatory authorities.

Despite impressive results across the board, the NIGC emphasised that the Indian gaming regulatory community “remains mindful” that dramatic fluctuations, either positive or negative, require time for the sector to return to more “predictable trends”. 

“While last year experienced a record number of closures there was also growth with new operations opening,” Simermeyer added. “This demonstrates gaming operations and tribes are making difficult decisions as they navigate a rebound from the pandemic.”

Additionally, the NIGC’s Vice Chair, Jeannie Hovland, stated that 2021’s GGR performance was also a reflection of Indian Gaming’s geographic, demographic and financial diversity. 

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

The FY 2021 revenues are calculated from the independently audited financial statements of 510 gaming operations owned by 243 federally recognised tribes. Indian gaming operations are located on Indian land in 29 states.