State Capitol News
Mon August 3, 2009
Tribal gaming revenues remain down
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – New figures today show the amount of wagering at tribal casinos
continues to remain weak as people hang on to their dollars.
The figures from the Department of Gaming put tribal
contributions to the state for the second quarter of this year at
slightly more than $23.5 million. That is 9.4 percent less than
the same period last year. The figures, based on a requirement
for tribes to share revenues with the state, are a key indicator
of gambling as the actual gaming handle is confidential. Sheila
Morago, executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming
Association said the numbers are good news in one way for the
tribes because they come as lobbyists for the horse and dog
racing industry are pushing lawmakers to let their clients also
have casino-style gaming.
"There's probably not a whole lot of reason to be adding
additional machines to the market when the market is still
decreasing over last year."
But racing industry lobbyist Gibson McKay said the soft economy
is precisely the reason lawmakers should consider allowing off-
reservation gambling. He said the tracks would give the state far
more than the tribes.
"Whenever you're offering 45 percent to tax anything, you're
certainly making a huge dent in what has been a very difficult
time for the state of Arizona."
McKay estimates racinos -- tracks with casinos -- could generate
at least $500 million a year in tax revenues, compared to the
nearly $110 million the tribes contributed this past year.