State Capitol News
1:46 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

State Gaming Department Figures May Predict Better Times Ahead

Phoenix, AZ – The new report shows Indian tribes that have casinos contributed
nearly $11.3 million in revenue sharing to the state in the last
quarter of 2010. While that's up only slightly from the same
period a year earlier, it comes after two prior years of sharp
declines. The figures are the best indication of how well tribal
casinos are doing. That's because the actual profits of these
operations are confidential. But a 2002 ballot measure which
gives the tribes the exclusive right to operate casinos requires
them to give the state a share of the revenues -- figures that
are public. Sheila Morago, executive director of the Arizona
Indian Gaming Association, said she sees the new numbers as a
good sign -- and not just for the tribes.

(I'm thinking that everybody's disposable income has become a
little bit more disposable.)

Morago said people cut back on non-essentials when they are
concerned about their finances. That includes entertainment. And
Morago said gambling fits in that same category along with taking
in a movie or even just going to a restaurant. The state's
jobless rate does remain at 9.4 percent. But Morago said
Arizonans -- at least those with jobs -- apparently believe the
worst may be over and they can release their grip on their purses
and wallets.

(I'm not an economist so I can't tell you what it is they're
thinking. But for me, personally, I'm feeling a little bit better
about things. So instead of holding on to every dime I have, I'm
starting to go out to eat a little bit more, going out to movies
and doing the things that we used to do for entertainment.)

What's happening at tribal casinos is not unique. The Arizona
Lottery reported total sales for the last six months of 2010 at
nearly $269.2 million. That is a 4.9 percent increase from the
same period in 2009. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard
Fischer.