The American Gaming Association (AGA) hosted the latest installment in its Get to Know Gaming tour in Oklahoma City this week, simultaneously taking the opportunity to reveal a new study highlighting the positive impact that gaming has on Oklahoma state, its businesses and residents.
AGA’s Get to Know Gaming tour aims to engage local leaders about gaming’s role as a community partner in 40 states across the country. Thursday’s round table panel at the Petroleum Club Event Center included members of Congress, Republicans Tom Cole and Kendra Horn; Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Commerce Bill Lance; Choctaw Nation Senior Executive Officer Janie Dillard; Cherokee Nation Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo; and AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. Lt Governor Matt Pinnell moderated the discussion.
Addressing the event, Miller said: “For nearly three decades, sovereign tribal nations and gaming companies have been engines of growth and opportunity in the state of Oklahoma, creating partnerships with local organizations, supporting small businesses and providing good jobs for workers of all backgrounds. Today, we’re pleased to spotlight how the relationships between Oklahoma’s tribal nations, elected officials, small business owners and community leaders serve as a model of success for states around the nation.”
In launching its latest report, titled Casinos & Communities Oklahoma, the association revealed a raft of statistics underlining the importance of gaming to the local economy. Headline figures show that the industry supports more than 75,000 jobs state-wide, generating $4.3bn in wages, and has an annual economic impact of $9.8bn.
A significant portion of the report focuses on how tribal gaming positively impacts both the Indian Nations and the state as a whole. Brien Thorstenberg, Executive Vice President of Economic Development at the Tulsa Regional Chamber commented that although the mission of the tribes is to provide the employment opportunities for their tribal nation, they help everybody.
“The tribes run job fairs and it’s not just for tribal citizens,” he said. “The companies in this region are very good about having their demographics mirror the community. It’s a little bit of raising all boats, you see the tribal casinos helping, especially in the areas of education and healthcare, youth services, things along those lines.”
Janet Reed, Executive Director of the Durant Chamber of Commerce agreed in the report. “They are able not only to grow programs which strengthen tribal government, but impact every community in the very same way,” she stated. “If we remove them and remove the financial base that they have, our communities, the rural communities would be absolutely devastated.”