The coronavirus pandemic has had a vast impact on the gambling industry, but a sector in the US which has received less attention than others is the tribal gaming economy.

In a recent newscast from Indian Country Today, the anchors and reporters discussed the economic effects of COVID-19 on Native American casino operations

With a major source of income cut off due to casino closures, many tribal reservations became dependent on funds set aside for public development projects prior to the outbreak of the virus.

Detailing how ‘tribal gaming revenues have an impact that reaches far beyond the reservation boundaries,’ the Indian Country Today reporters spoke to tribal leaders and operators in the sector to hear an industry insight.

Gary George, CEO of the Wild Horse Resort and Casino in the state of Oregon, was one of the first gaming operators to have to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, after a non-native employee at the venue tested positive for the virus. 

The CEO detailed how the virus was a ‘crisis moment’ for the tribal gaming industry, further stating operators were unsure how to respond to the situation.

Heading south to Scottsdale, Arizona, ICT spoke to Marvin Harvier of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, who outlined how the area had felt the ‘economic brunt of the closures immediately’ despite not recording a positive COVID-19 test for a considerable period of time.

“Government utilises those funds to provide services for our members, so when that shut down, and not having any income sent from the enterprise to the government, we had to look for other ways of operating,” he explained.

“Tribal gaming is a significant contributor to local and state economies. Pre-pandemic tribal gaming revenue was at an all time high, but once the closure hit, tribal leaders prepared for a downturn,” commented reporter Carina Dominguez of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, who also highlighted the $34.6 billion in tribal gaming revenues generated in 2019, an all time industry high.

Source – Indian Country Today YouTube Channel

Tribal gaming revenues ‘reach far beyond reservation boundaries’