Tribal gaming revenues increased by 4.4% In 2016

  • Figures released by National Indian Gaming Commission show marked increase in revenue
  • US tribal casinos see increase of 4.4% compared to just 1.1% for commercial casinos

Statistics released by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) have shown that revenue for tribal casinos across the US in 2016 was $31.2 billion – this is a 4.4% increase compared to 2015’s figure.

tribal casino revenues rising

To calculate the industry’s revenue, a total of 488 financial statements were consulted. These statements covered 244 of the 566 federally recognized tribes, who are settled in 29 states across the country.

Tribal casinos vs commercial casinos

What’s interesting to note is that the revenue of tribal casinos is growing faster than that of commercial casinos. Even though tribal casinos generated some $8 billion less in revenue than commercial casinos, their revenue is growing at a faster rate.

As previously mentioned, tribal casino revenue has grown 4.4% compared to last year, whereas for commercial casinos, the amount of growth year-on-year is just 1.1%. As a reflection of the less commercialized nature of the tribal casino industry, 57% of the revenue was generated from small or mid-sized casinos with an income of less than $25 million – a lot of these casinos are located in more rural, out-of-the-way areas, hence the lower revenues.

Reasons for the growth

According to the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, Jonodev O. Chaudhuri, there are two main factors that have contribute to tribal casinos’ revenue growth.

The first is self-determination policies that tribal casinos have been enforcing; the second is the fact that casinos play a very important role in local economies. Not only do they provide jobs and foster economic development, they also generate revenues that contribute to public services such as education and infrastructure.

Chaudhuri remarked that the increased revenue is ‘excellent news for so many tribal nations and local communities who rely on Indian gaming’. He also emphasized that not all tribes gamble and ones that do typically do so in moderation.


The release of the figures comes on the 30th anniversary of the California vs Cabazon Band of Mission Indians court case. Following the case, whose focus was the development of Native American gambling, Congress went on to pass the Indian Gaming Regulation Act (IGRA) in 1998.

While commenting on the increased revenue, Chaudhuri also mentioned the IGRA; he cited its aims to ‘promote tribal economic development, tribal self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments’. He added that no other economic driver has promoted these as successfully as gambling has.

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