April 10, 2020 3 min read


Two-Week Casino Closure Cost Native American Tribes $1.5B

Tribal casinos lost more than $1.5 billion in gaming and non-gaming revenues for the first two weeks of the casino closure, claims a report from Meister Economic Consulting.

The impact of the widely adopted measures to mitigate and contain the spread of the coronavirus has been felt deeply within the gaming and hospitality industries. Causing serious disruptions to travel and tourism was just a drop in the ocean compared to the temporary closure imposed on land-based gaming facilities to minimize the social transmission of the disease, effectively shutting down the whole industry.

Casino Industry Halted

The American Gaming Association /AGA/, the industry representative body, recently announced that 987 out of 989 casinos were closed to help support federal and local government effort to contain the deadly disease.

The closure of casinos in the US have been hitting hard on Native American tribes, that operate 524 casinos, including other brick-and-mortar type of gaming facilities, spread across 29 states, and rely heavily on the revenue generated from them.

Most of the 246 tribes that have gaming operations, use the gaming and non-gaming related revenue to fund tribal government programs, infrastructure and social services within their communities, that focus on the Native American populations already placed at a disadvantage in terms of professional opportunities.

Billions Lost, Hundreds of Thousands People Out of Work

The report estimated that the two-week closure of casinos had resulted into $4.4 billion in lost economic activity, leaving 728,000 people out of work, causing $969 million in lost wages, as well as $631 million in lost taxes and revenue sharing received by federal, state and local governments.

From the Native gaming operations being halted for two weeks, economist at Meister estimated a loss of $1.5 billion in economic activities, nearly 300,000 people out of work, $332 million lost in wages, and $240 million loss from taxes and shared revenue to the authorities, a significant detriment to Native American tribes.

“It is noted that some of the aforementioned losses in wages and taxes have been temporarily mitigated by casinos that have continued to pay wages and provide benefits to employees in their early stage of closure.  However, these situations are in flux and data are incomplete at this time.  Conservatively, lost benefits are not factored into lost wages at all as many tribal casinos have continued to provide benefits.”

Meister Economic Consulting

Closure Continues, Losses Mount

The economic consultancy points out the negative impact on tribes will be exacerbated the longer the gaming venues remain closed, and the consultancy will post updates on a two-weekly basis.

In addition, Meister Economic Consulting pledges to donate 10% of their coronavirus impact research and analysis proceeds to Native American charities.

When casinos started shutting down, the National Indian Gaming Association, in a letter to the members of the US House​ of Representatives, asked for economic help to the extent of $ 18 billion, as a substitute for the lost gaming and non-gaming revenues.

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