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Indian gaming revenues booming in Oklahoma - KOAM TV 7

Indian gaming revenues booming in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma's Indian gaming revenues are booming and some surrounding communities say they're reaping the benefits.

The numbers come from a new report just released by a California economist.

The study says Oklahoma Indian gaming produced nearly $3.48 billion in revenues in 2011.  That's a 7.7% increase over the previous year.  And the study finds the Indian gaming growth rate in Oklahoma was more than double the national average of 3.4%.

Area casinos tell us they too have seen a steady revenue increase in the past few years but they also point out that their gain in revenue spills over to help local economy's as well.

"A rising tide in terms of gaming revenue creates economic benefit for the surrounding communities," says Kent Jones, the Downstream Casino Chief Financial Officer.  "Gaming has expanded tremendously in Oklahoma.  A number of the tribes fortunately are located in border regions."

"We strive to help the economy, not only for the tribe, but for the surrounding areas as well," says Ranny McWatters of the Downstream Development Authority.

With 13 casinos in a 30 mile radius, Amanda Davis of the Miami Convention and Visitor's bureau says that a boost in revenue for them means more visitors coming to town and spending money, especially when casino's hold special events.

"We had an extreme boxing and we also had a concert the night before, so we did get a lot of hotel rooms out of that, restaurants reported they had a lot of people come in and eating," says Davis.

Davis says many people come to the Four States during spring and summer to see Route 66, but casino traffic continues to bring people to the area year round.

And Jones, Downstream's CFO, says the increase is casino revenues is not just good for local restaurant and hotel chains, but for employment across the Four States as well.

"We're able have a solid employment base not only for tribal members, but for residents of the nearby communities," says Jones.

Downstream says they have hired more than 100 employees from across the Four States in the past year alone.

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