A study commissioned by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), which represents most of the Golden State’s gaming tribes, found that the industry put .5 billion into the state’s economy and created 52,000 jobs.
The study, conducted by Beacon Economics, is unconnected to the upcoming election and the results will be used to educate the public about the contributions of Indian gaming, say tribal leaders. Thirteen gaming tribes contributed money to the study, which is the first to put a magnifying glass to Indian gaming since it was legalized a dozen years ago. Many of the compacts originally negotiated during that time will be coming up for renegotiation in 2020.
Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics said, “The benefits are broad-based and statewide: including tribes and tribal members, non-tribal members, local economies and state and local government budgets. As today’s economy improves and discretionary spending rises, the magnitude of these effects can be expected to grow.”
Some members of gaming tribes believe that they are not doing enough to tout the economic contributions that tribal casinos make. “The tribes are making a lot of economic contributions to the state, and we’re probably not sharing that as well as we ought to,” said a member of the Rincon tribe last month.
Indian tribes are exceedingly secretive about how much money they make from gaming, and many of them did not respond to the survey. Danny Tucker, chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, and also chairman of CNIGA, said he expects more tribes to answer similar surveys in the future when they see how getting this information out to the public benefits them.
The study found that more than half of the economic activity generated by gaming was not directly spent in that industry.
The industry also creates $468 million in revenues for state and local government services, and contributes $818 million to non-gaming tribes, according to the study.