Oklahoma tribes generate nearly $4.4 billion in gaming revenues
Oklahoma Indian gaming revenues have risen 15 straight years — reaching nearly $4.4 billion in 2016, according to a new report released Wednesday morning by Casino City Press.
Revenues increased from $4.15 billion in 2015 to more than $4.36 billion in 2016, an increase of about 5 percent, according to the 2018 edition of Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report authored by economist Alan Meister.
Because of the time required to collect and analyze tribal gaming data, Casino City Press is just now publishing 2016 results.
Exclusivity fees that tribes pay Oklahoma under gaming compacts also have risen in recent years, but the rate of increase has not kept pace with the increase in tribal gaming revenues.
Tribes paid Oklahoma a record $133.9 million in exclusivity fees in fiscal year 2017, which was a 1.44 percent increase over the $132 million the state received the previous year.
The exclusivity fees tribes paid the state were derived from more than $2.2 billion in revenue that Oklahoma tribes generated through the operation of Class III electronic games and certain card games.
Based on the terms of negotiated compacts, Oklahoma tribes are required to pay fees to the state based on the amount of revenue they derive from Class III games such as slot machines, blackjack, craps and roulette.
Many tribes also operate Class II and Class I games, but do not have to share with the state any revenues derived from those games.
Class II games are bingo and bingo-style games, and include electronic versions of bingo that resemble slot machines. Class I games include traditional Indian games that may be a part of tribal ceremonies and celebrations and social gaming for minimal prizes.
Casino City's Indian Gaming Report noted that 2016 was the third straight year that the number of Class II gaming machines in Oklahoma grew at a faster rate that the number of Class III machines. That could explain why the rate of increase in state exclusive fees lags the rate of increase in tribal gaming revenues.
Nationwide, tribes generated a record $31.5 billion in gaming revenues in 2016, a 3.9 percent increase over the prior year.
Oklahoma was second to only California in the amount of Indian gaming revenues generated in 2016.