Indian Gaming Today

Monday, January 26, 2009

The New Gambling Behavior Lab at UND

We mentioned in an earlier post that we had a photo opportunity at the University of North Dakota's new Gambling Behavior Lab, housed in the Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research. Our friend and collaborator, psychology professor Jeff Weatherly, is the lab's driving force.

Read more about the Gambling Behavior Lab.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Will All Tribal Gaming Be Hit Hard by the Recession?

As we've discussed in prior posts, the economic downturn has caught up with the legalized gambling industry as consumers are spending less on things like entertainment.

And the Indian gaming industry has not been immune, as some tribal casinos have laid off workers or cut back on hours.

But will more modest tribal gaming operations feel the same consumer "pull back" as the large, Las Vegas-style casino resorts?

We predict that more "local" tribal casinos -- those that draw their relatively modest customer bases from nearby mid-size communities -- may see less of a drop in patronage than the bigger casinos that rely more on out-of-state tourists.

Why? Well, it's one thing to commit to a weekend trip to Foxwoods, where a customer might budget for $1000 or more in gambling money, plus hotel and meals. It's something else to decide not to give up your weekly evening of gambling at a more modest tribal casino, followed by an inexpensive dinner at the buffet.

Do you agree? Let us know!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hometown News Highlight

Our hometown newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald, featured us on the front page this past Sunday. In a fairly wide-ranging piece, we opine about the future of Indian gaming in tough economic times.

And we're pictured in the new Gambling Behavior Lab at the University of North Dakota's Northern Plains Center for Behavioral Research. What a photo!

Read more here:
HIGH-ROLLING ACADEMICS: UND professors study Indian gaming

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

More on Indian gaming and the Economy

Kathryn's quoted in this article about the recession's impacts on tribal gaming in Mississippi, where the Mississippi Band of Choctaw announced that its Pearl River Resort would lay off 570 workers and its Golden Moon Hotel and Casino would operate only on weekends.

While gross revenues for Indian gaming operations across the U.S. in the aggregate have stayed relatively flat in the last year, the economic downturn is now hitting specific areas with greater force. Here, it is likely that the local economy couldn’t sustain the Golden Moon and the Silver Star, with the former cannibalizing the latter’s profits.

Some unsolicited advice: tribes would do well to consider as many creative ways as possible to keep casino employees on the payroll, for instance through flextime, reduced benefits, or even temporary layoffs. Not just the reality, but the image of layoffs is going to provide some serious negative PR in the regions in which these layoffs occur (just take a look at some of the reader reactions to the Clarion-Ledger story). And we all know that preserving or enhancing the positive image of tribal casinos constitutes vital political capital for tribes.

Read more in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger at
570 Jobs Gone at Choctaw Resort

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Indian Gaming and the Recession

On December 1, the National Bureau for Economic Research announced what many of us already knew: the U.S. economy has been in a recession for the last year.

Nearly every industry, including Indian gaming, is feeling the effects of the recession. Even the "big players," like the highly profitable Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, owned by the Mashantucket Pequots, announced in September that it was laying off 700 workers. This year, the tribe has cut 900 casino jobs and 200 tribal government jobs. The tribe reportedly has offered buyouts to all of its tribal employees, with the exception of the seven-member tribal council.

Just recently, the Seneca Indian Nation announced 210 layoffs at its three casinos in western New York state. The Senecas also will freeze some employee salaries and cut others'.

It seems like similar stories are coming fast and furious. Read more on the recession and the gaming industry:

Mohegan Sun Profits Lower, Job Cuts at Foxwoods, Hartford Courant

Gambler's Blues, Salt Lake Tribune

Chancy Times for Casino Companies, Business Week