OKLAHOMA CITY – The revenues of tribal gaming see an increase after the turbulent times during the pandemic as the COVID wave is slowly becoming quiet in the state.
Tribal gaming casinos pay the state fees for their rights to operate class III casinos and games.
According to an annual report released by the Management and Enterprise Services Office for the financial year 2020, the state collected more than $123.6 million, a 16.6 percent decline over the last fiscal year fro the tribal gaming outlets.
“The COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020 had a significant negative impact on amounts collected by the state,” according to the report. “All gaming facilities were closed to the public for a number of months during the fiscal year and were reopened at a reduced capacity through the rest of the fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021.”
The fees collected from the tribes for the fiscal year 2020 were the third lowest in this decade and were just ahead of the bad times for the industry in the fiscal year 2011 and 2014.
But with the uncertainty of COVID clearing and the mass vaccination, tribal gaming and other casinos saw a great increase in revenue. The state has spent about $167 million in exclusive fees, a new high from July 2020 to June 2021.
The numbers improved because of the strict health regulations and the importance of health measures being highlighted. Matthew Morgan who is the chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association said, “I think it shows our customers were comfortable with the health measures we took,” Morgan said. “We led early in testing. Tribes led in getting the vaccine out early and often to anyone that wanted it and continue to do so today.”
Tribal Gaming has done a tremendous job with the policy with masks and other SOPs that are related to COVID. Social distancing is compulsory at the Tribal Gaming casinos with special arrangements for them. This is one of the major reasons for this turnaround from what they saw in the previous fiscal year.
One of the most important reasons behind this turnaround is that they didn’t lay off any of their staff, they were paid full despite the economic condition being bad in the last fiscal year and the casinos didn’t compromise on any health measures that could risk their staff and the customers.