The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has reported that tribal gaming’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) for FY2021 came in at a record-high of $39bn, a 40% growth compared to FY2020 and a 13% improvement over FY2019.
E Sequoyah Simermeyer, Chairman of the NIGC, and Vice Chair Jeannie Hovland revealed the FY2021 numbers on the tradeshow floor at the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow and Conference (OIGA) in Oklahoma.
The revenue figures for the fiscal year are calculated from the independently audited financial statements of 510 gaming operations owned by 243 federally recognized tribes across 29 states.
In the announcement, the NIGC declared that FY2021’s gaming revenue was a new record high, with all administrative regions showing a year-over-year uptick. It was also its largest yearly increase ever, following its biggest decrease on record due to closures related to the pandemic.
“NIGC recognizes this year’s rebound has not been felt equally by all tribes,” commented Simermeyer on the results.
“We are committed to helping all tribal operations benefit from the regulatory lessons learned over the past two years.
“As we seek to build the regulatory workforce’s preparedness, all parts of the Indian gaming industry have a responsibility to learn from the experiences of tribes who have forged the path so we preserve those lessons and ensure we retain that knowledge for generations to come.”
The NIGC notes that tribal gaming’s regulatory community is “mindful” that significant revenue fluctuations “require time for the industry’s return to more predictable trends”.
The commission added that tribal operators define success in different ways, which means not every tribe has followed the same path in hopes of returning to pre-pandemic numbers.
Simermeyer added: “While last year experienced a record number of closures there was also growth with new operations opening. This demonstrates gaming operations and tribes are making difficult decisions as they navigate a rebound from the pandemic.”
Hovland highlighted the geographic, demographic, and financial diversity in the FY2021 GGR, stating: “The industry has much to celebrate and be proud of.
“With 43 gaming operations reporting GGR greater than $250m and accounting for more than 50% of total revenues, this year’s revenues underscore the wide diversity in gaming operations across Indian country.”