Tulsa, Oklahoma. – August 12, 2022 – As the Indian Gaming industry gathered in Tulsa for the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association’s Annual Tradeshow, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) released the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021) Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) numbers. This is the first set of gaming data released since vaccines were introduced to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Making the announcement live at the Tulsa Convention Center, Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer and Vice Chair Jeannie Hovland stated that the Indian Gaming industry grossed $39 billion in FY 2021. This is a post-pandemic increase of 40% over FY 2020s $24 billion and a 13% increase from FY 2019’s $34 billion.
“NIGC recognizes this year’s rebound has not been felt equally by all tribes. We are committed to helping all tribal operations benefit from the regulatory lessons learned over the past two years,” said Simermeyer. “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.”
While the Gross Gaming Revenue for FY 2021 will be recorded as the highest in Indian gaming history, pent-up demand, vaccinations, and safer travel all came together in FY 2021 to spur gaming revenues to record highs. As Indian gaming’s largest revenue increase year over year, we must remember it follows Indian Gaming’s greatest decrease in FY 2020 due to the record level of pandemic-related closures.
Joining the NIGC in Tulsa, Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr., stated:
“The increase of last year’s Indian gaming revenues is welcome news and demonstrates that our Industry in on the mend. While a 40% year-over-year increase is a great reflection of the hard work and resiliency of our Tribal casinos, we must remember that Covid-19 safety protocols and temporary shutdowns have increased the cost of doing business. Further, our Casino industry leaders continue to face hurdles regarding employee hiring and retainment, increased regulatory costs, and expiring State-Tribal Compacts.”
The NIGC made a point to single out the hard work of the Tribal regulatory community during FY 2021. They noted that despite the continuing effects of the pandemic, it did not slow innovative operational advancements, increased cyber-security measures, nor did it impair the steadfast work of our tribal regulatory authorities. Indian Gaming continues to be the safest, most well-regulated, Industry in the Country.
Chairman Stevens noted: “Once again, our front-line Tribal Regulators and Commissioners persevered through incredibly tough regulatory environments, just as they have from the beginning. I want to thank our Tribal Government Leaders who have invested their precious resources into developing a world-class regulatory control system. While it is unlikely we will see 40% revenue gains in one year in the future, our Industry is certainly on its way back up after two years of uncertainty.”
The NIGC succinctly stated that we should stay mindful of dramatic revenue fluctuations and that all industries need time to return to more predictable trends. Tribal Nations across the Country engage in the type of gaming that suits their environment and customers and thus have different metrics for measuring success.
“With 43 gaming operations reporting GGR greater than $250 million and accounting for more than 50% of total revenues, this year’s revenues underscore the wide diversity in gaming operations across Indian country.”
The FY 2021 revenues are calculated from the independently audited financial statements of 510 gaming operations owned by 243 federally recognized tribes. Indian gaming operations are located on Indian land in 29 states.
For more information on the FY 2021 Gross Gaming Revenue, including charts and graphs, please visit www.nigc.gov.