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Indian gaming revenues soared to a historic high in 2022, reaching nearly $41 billion, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) reported Wednesday.  

The NIGC said gross gaming revenue (GGR) for fiscal year 2022 grew 5% to $40.9 billion, an increase of nearly $2 billion over fiscal 2021. The highly anticipated announcement was made at the Chickasaw Naton’s WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

According to E. Sequoyah Simermeyer (Coharie), chairman of the NIGC, the GGR figure is an aggregate of revenue from 519 audited financial statements of 244 tribes that operate Indian gaming operations in 29 states in the United States.

Seven of NIGC’s eight regions showed an increase over FY 2021. It is important to note the year-over-year GGR change by region should not be used as a direct indicator of the local economy in any specific re­gion. Many other factors could have an impact on the GGR at the regional level, such as new gaming operations, expansions or renovations to existing operations, temporary or permanent closures, or changes in a gaming operation’s fiscal year.

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“I want to say that in general Indian gaming continues to do well, despite the historic challenge of tribal casino closures that began in March 2020 due to the pandemic,” Simermeyer said. 

“This year’s historic revenue reflects the resiliency of many tribal gaming operations, and how tribal gaming continues to rebound and remain strong. Tribal governments and the operations they license continue to explore new and innovative ways to expand and deliver world-class experiences to cultivate sustainable economies. Across Indian country, tribes pursue economic sustainability through gaming by relying on the robust regulatory reputation for which Indian gaming is well known, and made better when supported by efficient and effective measures,” Simermeyer said.

Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr, chairman of the Indian Gaming Association, said in a telephone interview with Native News Online on Wednesday afternoon from Washington, D.C. that he was pleased with the numbers. 

“We always keep our fingers crossed when these numbers are released, but I am pleased to see the rebound from the pandemic era and continue to grow,” Stevens said. “It’s a credit to our tribal leaders, casino operators, managers, and regulators, who are continuing to make what is good, much better through their hard work and dedication. We see it as a responsibility to our tribal communities.”

Also on hand for the announcement in Oklahoma was NIGC Vice Chair Jeannie Hovland (Flandreau Santee Sioux), who has traveled to various Indian gaming facilities during the past year. 

“I visited tribal nations whose gaming revenues have empowered through tribal sovereignty, created self-sustaining economies, diversified their business ventures, and alleviated financial hardships,” Hovland said. “I have seen how gaming revenues have improved the quality of life for many who have access to quality health care, clean water, renewable energy resources, higher education opportunities, and much needed social and welfare programs.”

“In short, gaming revenues have helped to preserve the ways of the last seven generations and allowed tribes to plan for the next generations,” Hovland continued. 

Indian gaming was established through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by the United States Congress on October 17, 1988, to regulate the conduct of gaming on Indian Lands. IGRA establishes the National Indian Gaming Commission and the regulatory structure for Indian gaming in the United States. The Commission is composed of three full-time members, a chairman and two associate members. The NIGC chairman is appointed by the President, with advice and approval by the U.S. Senate, and the two associate members are appointed by the Secretary of Interior.

“Across Indian Country, tribes pursue economic sustainability through gaming by relying on the robust regulatory reputation for which Indian gaming is well known, and made better when supported by efficient and effective measures,” said Simermeyer.

To view the FY 2022 GGR report, click here.

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
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Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].