Tribal gaming fees hit bottom in May

  • Tribal Gaming Fees

OKLAHOMA CITY – The energy and hospitality industries weren’t the only sectors that were staggered by the coronavirus. Tribal gaming in Oklahoma also registered significant declines in recent months.

The state treasury received $122,944,312 in exclusivity fees during Fiscal Year 2019-20, which ended June 30, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) reported. That was $25 million less than the amount received in the previous fiscal year, according to the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

As March unfolded, tribal gaming “was experiencing a lucrative year, with exclusivity fees for FY 2019-20 projected to top out between $155 million and $165 million, which would have been a record,” said OIGA Chairman Matthew L. Morgan.

But by mid-March “things had drastically changed,” he recalled. With the appearance of the coronavirus, tribal nations temporarily closed all gaming facilities in Oklahoma by March 23. 

Tribal gaming fees slipped from $12.2 million in March to $6.5 million in April, and bottomed out at a mere pittance in May, less than $21,000, ledgers show.

State revenue received from tribal gaming during the first seven months of the year was almost $30 million lower this year than it was last year.

As Oklahoma gradually reopens, tribal gaming is on the rebound, as the following chart shows.