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California, Connecticut, Arizona Are One, Two, Three
 in Indian Casino Revenue

By Levi J. Long, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Jun. 22, 2006 - Arizona's 15 gaming tribes, including the Tohono O'odham Nation and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, saw annual revenue totaling nearly $1.6 billion in 2005, ranking the state number three in the nation for casino cash flow, according to a gaming industry report.

In 2005, Arizona saw 14 percent more revenue than in 2004, according to the 2006-07 Indian Gaming Industry Report, released Wednesday by economist Alan Meister of Analysis Group Inc.

That 14 percent growth rate, however, is down from a previous 18 percent rate in 2004, though "it was easily enough to maintain Arizona's position as the third largest Indian gaming state," the report said.

Among the three states ranked in the report, California was No.1, pulling in $7.2 billion in 2005, up 24 percent. Connecticut ranked second with $2.3 billion, up 4 percent from the previous year.

Wednesday's report also found that the nation's 420 tribal-operated casinos were responsible for nearly 310,000 full-time jobs and about $10.5 billion in wages.

Locally, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe employs 1,300 workers at Casino del Sol and Casino of the Sun, and the O'odham employ 1,200 workers at the two Desert Diamond Casinos and the Golden Ha:san Casino near Why.

Non-gaming revenue in Arizona also saw growth grow, totaling $154 million for 2005, according to the report.

Those funds are also paving the way for the future, with more tribal casinos around the country upgrading facilities by adding hotels, spas, entertainment areas and restaurants, Meister said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.

"They are going for more of a resort-destination feel, and following gambling-destination models like those in Vegas," he said. "It's diversification for the tribe by adding these amenities ... the goal of adding those non-gaming areas translates to higher revenues."

The O'odham are already expanding current casino facilities, with the April groundbreaking of a $120 million casino-hotel project on Tucson's South Side, expected to open by fall 2007. It will replace the original Desert Diamond Casino at 7350 S. Nogales Highway and become Southern Arizona's first casino-hotel complex.

The report also notes state revenue sharing for 2005, with Arizona contributions totaling $87 million for that year.

Since Proposition 202 was approved by voters in 2003, the state's 15 gaming tribes have given part of gaming revenues to various state programs.

Tribes now share up to 8 percent of total revenue when net winnings exceed $100 million.

2005 Indian casino revenue --The top 5 states ranked by American Indian tribal gaming revenue:

1. California: $7.2 billion, up 24 percent.

2. Connecticut: $2.3 billion, up 4 percent.

3. Arizona: $1.6 billion, up 14 percent.

4. Oklahoma: $1.4 billion, up 39 percent.

5. Minnesota: $1.4 billion, up 1 percent.

Arizona casinos l 15 Arizona tribes, including the Tohono O'odham Nation and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, operate 22 casinos in the state.

l 2005 tribal contributions to the state: $87 million.

l 2005 non-gaming revenue: $154 million.

Source: 2006-07 Indian Gaming Industry Report

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

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