The National Indian Gaming Commission has reported a 3.9 per cent growth in gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the financial year 2017, rising to $32.4bn. The revenues are calculated from the independently audited financial statements of 494 gaming operations, owned by 242 federally recognised tribes.

Operational GGR is the amount wagered minus winnings returned to players. It represents earnings before salaries, tribal-state compacts, and operating expenses. A statement from the commission read: “The annual announcement of GGR numbers for Indian Country provides a yearly snapshot of the economic health of Indian gaming. As 2018 marks the 30th year of gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), it is an opportune time to reflect on key policy principles that have helped create the successes of a healthy Indian gaming industry.”

Policies include: the preservation of the role of tribes as the primary regulators and beneficiaries of their operations; recognition and utilisation of Congress’s stated intent and IGRA’s built-in flexibility to promote technological innovation, such as the use of electronic aids in class II gaming; faithful application of the law that accounts for the unique histories and land-bases of Tribes and IGRA’s built-in flexibility to allow Indian gaming on a variety of different types of Indian lands; and finally, the primacy of the nation to nation relationship between tribes and the federal government and tribes, one that predates the US Constitution.

The consistent growth of the Indian gaming industry year after year, added the commission, shows how well tribes run and regulate complicated operations. By staying in its regulatory lane and supporting tribes as the primary regulators, the NIGC has supported the Indian gaming industry’s entrepreneurial spirit and self-determination goals.

“All of Indian Country has worked very hard to maintain a flourishing and constantly growing gaming industry,” said the Chair of the NIGC, Jonodev O. Chaudhuri. “The successes of Indian gaming in the 30 years since IGRA prove that the foundational principles of federal Indian law should remain at the forefront of any future public policy discussions,” he said.