AGA Numbers Suggest Tribal Gaming Is A $100 Billion Industry

Written By Martin Derbyshire on October 19, 2017 - Last Updated on November 26, 2021
Turtle Creek Casino sign

The American Gaming Association (AGA) recently released a study indicating the economic impact of Native American casinos across the United States is approaching $100 billion.

The report is titled The Economic Impact of Tribal Gaming: A First-Ever State-by-State Analysis. It debuted at a roundtable discussion with gaming leaders in Oklahoma City this week. The roundtable discussion was a part of AGA’s Get to Know Gaming campaign.

Nearly $97 billion economic impact

As the name indicates, the report is said to be the first-ever state-by-state analysis of the impact of Native American gambling operations on the US economy. The report found that Tribal gaming supports as many as 635,000 jobs that generate over $33 billion in employee wages.

Also, it indicated Tribal casinos have an economic impact of nearly $97 billion. Moreover, they generate close to $16 billion in taxes and direct payments to federal, state and local governments.

The National Indian Gaming Commission says there are more than 485 Indian gaming operations in the United States. Additionally, there are 565 Native American Tribes with 244 running gambling operations in 28 states.

The Commission estimates these Tribal gaming operations generate more than $31 billion in annual revenue. Additionally, it says this represents 43 percent of all casino gaming revenue across the US.

Native American casinos grow 300-fold

The report appears to concur, concluding that Tribal gaming has grown 300-fold since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988.

The report indicates Tribal gaming has gone from a $121 million segment of the U.S. gaming industry, consisting of small bingo halls and gaming facilities, to a $30 billion-plus segment operating in 28 states.

“Casino gaming is a strong community partner throughout Oklahoma and across the 40 states where our industry operates,” AGA president and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a release. “As tribal and commercial operators continue to work together, our industry will continue to grow in the years to come.”

Governing tribal gaming

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act governs Indian gaming operations across the country. It essentially allows Native American tribes to lawfully run bingo operations and the like on tribal lands. Plus, it allows for Native American tribes to own and operate traditional casinos with casino-style games, including video slot machines, blackjack, craps, and roulette table games. That is, provided the Tribe negotiates a gaming compact with the state in which its facility exists.

The National Indian Gaming Association incorporated in 1985. Its mission is to protect and preserve tribal sovereignty and tribes’ ability to attain economic self-sufficiency through gaming. It is a nonprofit organization.

The AGA calls itself the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion US casino industry. According to the AGA, the US casino industry as a whole supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include both commercial and Native American casino operators, suppliers, and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry.

The AGA released a similar report earlier this year studying the impact of gaming on small business. The Gaming Industry’s Impact on Small Business Development report concluded gaming’s impact is widespread. Also, it is larger in small to mid-sized communities where local businesses work to integrate into gaming operations.

The report also concluded the casino industry generates $52 billion in annual revenues for small businesses.

Photo by ehrlif /

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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