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Bits and Pieces from Indian Country - August 2006

12 October 2006

Indian gaming is stuck in the same mire in Washington as the Internet; each congressman and representative is eager to show that he or she had nothing to do with Abramoff, his causes, or his associates. Indian gaming is also caught in the election rhetoric and politics. That may mean that one of the revisions of the Indian Gaming Act may pass one of the houses but not both, or it may mean that even that step gets postponed until after the election. In either case, it is anyone’s guess as to what may or may not pass.

In California, the tribes and the governor have decided to go back to the table and attempt to negotiate a new compact. The election-year rhetoric of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proven to be just that; Indian gaming is not the solution to California’s budget woes and will not put an extra five or ten billion dollars in the state’s coffers. In turn, the tribes have pushed the envelope with Class II games and found the state unrelenting, and like the governor, are now looking for some common ground on which to grow.

Whatever the politics of the situation, Indian gaming is alive and well, as indicated by the revenues published by the National Indian Gaming Association.

Tribal casinos pulled in $22.6 billion in gambling revenue last year, double the take of Nevada gambling, as Indian casinos recorded another record year…The revenue was a 15 percent increase from the $19.6 billion Indian gambling reaped in 2004, according to the National Indian Gaming Association. Tribal gambling has recorded double-digit growth almost every year since Congress created the legal framework for it in 1988. There are now more than 400 Indian casinos nationwide… Nevada casinos rely on other entertainment like hotels, restaurants and shows for about half their revenue, Indian casinos took in about $2.7 billion last year from non-gambling entertainment. Erica Werner, Associated Press, Forbes, 7-11-06

Oklahoma’s Indian gaming continues to grow and expand, threatened only by the possibility of gaming in Texas; and for the time being that does not appear to be an immediate threat.

In Florida, the tribes and governor remain locked in their dance of disagreement; the situation will probably remain the same until the slot machines start to operate at the tracks in Broward County. At that point, I expect the Seminoles to start to put in Class III games. The presence of slot machines at the racetracks in Florida is getting closer and that certainly means slots for the tribes are closer also.

New York too is stuck in a process. There are more slot machines and more casinos on the horizon, and the question is when? The governor wants them, the tribes and the track operators want them, but something or someone is holding it back. So for example in Buffalo, the Seneca are going to build a $125 million casino, that is, as soon as the city and the tribe can agree on some conditions. At the same time, the Oneida Nation is fighting to keep the casino it has – one that is not on trust land. The tribe may have to move the casino and renegotiate a compact; that would allow the tribe Class III games, but certainly would also include some form of revenue sharing that the current compact doesn’t require. And whether tribes from Wisconsin or Oklahoma can open casinos in New York is in the hands of Congress – no one would deny that the tribes have legitimate land claims in New York, but the issue is entangled in the “off reservation” debates in Washington.

Therefore, it is my opinion that Indian gaming is caught up in election politics and will have to wait until some later date, probably next year, to see what changes will be wrought in the gaming landscape. And like the rest of the gaming industry, while the tribes wait on Congress, the cash register continues to ring on a healthy industry.

But now, that is simply my opinion, isn’t it?

Ken


Ken Adams

Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.
Ken Adams
Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.