Indian gaming up in U.S. in 2011, down in state

While Connecticut's tribally owned casinos experienced a fifth straight year of gaming revenue declines in 2011, the nation's Indian casinos as a whole posted a second straight year of modest growth, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun generated about $2.01 billion in 2011, down 2 percent over the $2.06 billion they generated in 2010, Casino City Press says in the 2013 edition of its Indian Gaming Industry Report, billed as a comprehensive study of Indian gaming.

Alan Meister, an economist with Nathan Associates Inc., authored the report, which is based on 2011 data, the most recent available.

The Connecticut casinos' revenues declined 5 percent in 2010, 7 percent in 2009, 5 percent in 2008 and 1 percent in 2007, the report says.

Nationwide, Indian gaming revenue climbed 3.4 percent in 2011 to about $27.4 billion.

Indian gaming facilities operated in 28 states in 2011, with facilities in the two states that generated the most gaming revenue - California and Oklahoma - accounting for 38 percent of the nationwide total. Connecticut, Florida and Washington were also among the top five states in Indian gaming revenue, a group that together accounted for 61 percent of the nationwide total.

At the state level, the year-over-year change in revenue ranged from Alabama's 26 percent gain to New York's 3 percent decline.

After New York, the states posting the steepest declines were Oregon, North Dakota, Connecticut and Idaho.

The report attributed the decline in revenues at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to "the downturn in the economy, as well as increased competition in the Northeastern U.S., namely from commercial casinos and racinos in Pennsylvania, Indian casinos and racinos in New York, commercial casinos in Atlantic City, and racinos in Maine and Rhode Island."

The Connecticut casinos will face further competition, the report says, from new gaming in Ohio, where three of four approved casinos opened last year; Massachusetts, where three casinos have been authorized; and New Hampshire, where legislation authorizing casinos is being considered.

Overall, Indian gaming grew at twice the rate of commercial casinos in 2011, according to the report, which says Indian gaming generated about 44 percent of all U.S. casino gaming revenue in 2011.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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