State's Lottery is Seeing Growth
If wagering is any indication, the state's economy may be on the mend, at least a little bit.
Figures from the state Department of Gaming show tribes in Arizona took in close to $1.8 billion last fiscal year. That's after they paid off everyone's winnings but before their operating costs. The figure is 5.1 percent better than a year earlier. But it's still far off the nearly $2 billion generated four years ago, before the economic bubble burst. Gaming Director Mark Brnovich said the numbers are not surprising.
"Gaming is essentially driven by people's disposable income," Brnovich said. "So the fact that we're starting to see an increase and uptick I think is an indication that although the broader national economy may still be struggling, at least here in Arizona I think we're seeing progress."
Brnovich said there are also indications that tribes are realizing that they cannot rely simply on revenues from people plunking money into slot machines or wagering on card games. He said that's why several have decided to expand their operations.
"We're really seeing this trend towards not just a gambling facility but really a resort facility that has gambling as an element of it and also includes the restaurants and other amenities like spas and golf courses," he added.
Tribes doing well also helps the state: A revenue sharing agreement approved by voters in 2002 resulted in more than $84 million to the state last fiscal year.