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Mar 6, 2012 6:59 AM by AP

American Indian tribes' casinos see turnaround

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Casinos run by American Indian tribes came off a first-ever decline in revenue to see a slight turnaround, but a report released Tuesday showed the improvement still wasn't enough to lift profits past pre-recession levels.

The casinos generated about $26.7 billion in 2010, up 1 percent from 2009, according to Casino City's Indian Gaming Report. Revenue from food, lodging, entertainment and shopping remained at $3.2 billion in 2010.

The study includes data collected from tribes, gambling facilities, gaming associations and regulatory agencies on 448 casinos operated by nearly half of the nation's roughly 500 federally recognized Indian tribes.

Indian gambling casinos are a significant segment of the gambling industry, collecting 44 percent of all U.S. casino revenue, and they continue to gain ground, said economist Alan Meister, who wrote the 10th annual report.

Meister predicts in the report that Indian gambling casino revenue will overtake the commercial casino segment in the near future.

Commercial casino gambling revenue was $27.9 billion in 2010, down only a fraction of a percent from 2009.

The latest analysis shows Indian gambling casinos led to the creation of about 706,000 jobs, and contributed $12.4 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

The figures show Indian casino gambling was highly concentrated within certain states, and California led the nation, bringing in about a quarter of U.S. tribal gambling revenues. Oklahoma was the second leading state, the report showed.

The top five states for tribal casino gambling revenue, which also included Connecticut, Florida and Washington, accounted for 61 percent of tribal casino gambling revenue.

California revenues were down 3 percent from the previous year.

The 1 percent growth rate in 2010 was significantly below pre-recession growth rates of about 15 percent from 2002-2005, 10 percent in 2006 and 4 percent in 2007, Meister said in his report.

He blamed a lack of confidence in the economy and high unemployment rates.

At the state level, the growth of Indian gambling revenue was varied. There was a 61 percent uptick in Alabama, the fastest growing state. Texas, Alaska, Louisiana, Washington, Michigan, Mississippi, New York. Florida and Oklahoma also saw growth.

The states with the most rapid decline included North Carolina with a 7 percent drop. There were also declines in Idaho, Iowa, Connecticut and California.

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