The Shawnee Tribe continues to make progress on the Golden Mesa Casino in Guymon, Oklahoma. The facility is expected to open in the summer of 2019. Photo: Golden Mesa Casino

Indian gaming industry grows in revenues but not in number of facilities

The tribal casino industry continues to enjoy steady growth, with revenues reaching $32.4 billion, according to the latest figures from the National Indian Gaming Commission.

But in terms of actual gaming sites, Indian Country has "largely plateaued," Dave Palermo reports in Global Gaming Magazine. Between 2015 and 2017, tribes were only able to open another 20 facilities.

When figures from the Indian Gaming Industry Report, an independent analysis, are taken into account, tribes have only seen a 1.2 percent growth in the number of facilities, Palermo notes.

The Wilton Rancheria will be opening a casino in Elk Grove, California, after overcoming numerous hurdles.

“With some exceptions, the Indian gaming market is fully developed,” Bryan Newland, the chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community, says in Palermo's writeup.

Entirely new facilities include ones owned by the Spokane Tribe and the Cowlitz Tribe, both in Washington state. Notably, both tribes had to overcome years of political, legal and regulatory hurdles.

In the immediate future, the Shawnee Tribe is close to opening a casino in Oklahoma. The Wilton Rancheria and the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe are also on track to joining the industry, in California and Massachusetts, respectively.

Of the 573 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., 243 operate casinos pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, according to data from the NIGC, a federal agency.

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