Pandemic negatively affected Indian gaming in 2020, commission reports

08.18.2021 Dean Rhodes Gaming


The National Indian Gaming Commission reported on Tuesday, Aug. 17, what many Native American Tribal casinos already knew – the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected revenues in 2020.

Gaming Commission Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer and Vice Chair Jeannie Hovland reported that Indian gaming revenues in fiscal year 2020 were $27.8 billion, a decrease of 19.5 percent from the previous year.

“The gross gaming revenue decrease was expected,” Simermeyer said. “The unknown was just how much of an impact COVID-19 had on Indian gaming. Every year, the annual gross gaming revenue figure tells a story about Indian gaming’s successes, contributions to Indian communities and economic impacts. This was highlighted even more during the pandemic. Nevertheless, Tribes were on the forefront of creating standards, developing new safety protocols and sharing community resources. I foresee this decrease as only a temporary setback for Indian gaming.”

The gross gaming revenue figure is an aggregate of revenue from 524 independently audited financial statements from 248 federally recognized Tribes in 29 states. The figure is based on the amount wagered minus winnings returned to players.

The Pacific Northwest region, which includes Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Alaska, accounted for $3.1 billion in gross gaming revenue at 57 gaming sites. Spirit Mountain Casino closed for an unprecedented 74 days in 2020 between mid-March through the end of May because of the pandemic.