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Revenues up at California Indian casinos

  • Jodi Cohen works as a dealer at 3 Card Poker table at the Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, on Sunday, March 9, 2014. California Indian casinos saw a slight bump in revenue in 2012, but not as much as before the recession. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Revenues at California Indian casinos increased slightly in 2012, but still not as robustly as pre-recession years, according to a report being released Wednesday.

California's 68 tribal casinos raked in $6.96 billion in 2012, the most recent year available, according to Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report.

That was nearly a 1 percent increase over the $6.91 billion they collected in 2011.

It was the second year of positive growth for California tribal casinos after experiencing three consecutive years of decline, according to the author, Alan Meister, an economist with Nathan Associates Inc.

The 2012 growth was slightly lower than the year before.

He said the trend has mirrored the economy's sluggish growth overall.

“Gaming is tied in large part to your disposable income,” Meister said Tuesday. “When people don't have jobs, or they have lower paying jobs, or high tax burdens and end up having less money to spend to pay rent, the mortgage, car and food necessities, they have less for entertainment, like gaming.”

The latest figures fall well short of the record $7.8 billion in revenues California's Indian casinos collected in 2007, prior to the recession.

California holds the largest share — 25 percent — of nationwide Indian gaming revenue, which stood at about $28.1 billion in 2012, according to Meister's report.

He said the performance of Indian gaming was both positive and negative.

“While it was good to see Indian gaming continue to grow on a nationwide basis, the fact that it grew at a slower pace than 2011, its pre-recession pace, and other casino gaming segments in 2012, was a cause for concern,” he stated.

According to his estimates, Indian casinos in the U.S. and their nongaming operations directly generated approximately $31.7 billion in output, supported about 291,000 jobs and $12.3 billion in wages.

Meister said that nationwide, about two-thirds of Indian casinos experienced growth in revenues while about 34 percent experienced declines.

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