According to the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, casinos have beaten pre-pandemic revenues since reopening.
US.- Casinos in Oklahoma are on track for one of their most profitable years yet. Remington Park and Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs, the state’s two commercial race tracks and casinos, had reported revenue up by about 1.4 per cent from January through August compared with the same period in 2019.
Casino exclusivity fees were up nearly 6.5 per cent from January through August 2021 compared with the same pre-pandemic period in 2019 and up nearly 35.4 per cent compared to 2020. Casino gaming fees fund common education and other services for people living in Oklahoma.
These figures come from an analysis of data provided by the Office of State Management and Enterprise Services. In 2020, Covid-19 forced tribal operators to close more than 120 licensed casinos in the state.
Oklahoma’s tribes have the sole right to operate casinos in exchange for paying the state exclusivity fees ranging from 4 per cent to 10 per cent on a certain subset of games. In 2019, those exclusivity fees generated about $152.8m. From January through August 2021, the exclusivity fees have already generated $107.5m. Commercial race tracks generated about $28.4m in budget 2019 and $24m in the budget year 2021.
House minority leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, said: “The exclusivity fee is an important stream of revenue for the state, and is important for education.”
Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said: “I think that our customers are feeling safe with what we put in place and that shows, (it) is reflected in our numbers.”
State representative Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, said: “People are rebounding from the coronavirus and have more disposable income, and so they’re spending more money all over the place, and certainly, casinos are a part of that.”