Oregon casino revenue declines

By Oregon Tax News,

Due to the ongoing economic crisis, Oregon’s Indian gaming industry suffered a 1.2 percent decline in revenue last year, placing the state No. 24 among the 31 Indian gaming states. According to economist Alan Meister and his recently released annual Indian Gaming Industry Report, no new tribes entered the gaming business and existing players did not open any new facilities in Oregon during the year.

Nationally, the gaming industry, once thought to be recession-proof, has been hit hard, according to the News-Register.  Many casinos reported declining visitor traffic and spending per visit, resulting in declining revenue.  There has also been a delay or downsizing of casino development projects and employee layoffs and furloughs.

Although Indian gaming experienced the slowest revenue growth in its history, it still managed to post a 1.5 percent increase over 2008, Meister told the News-Register.  The revenue growth slowdown is part of a larger trend in declining Indian gaming revenue, from a 20 percent decline in 2001 to the current 1.2 percent decline.

The slowdown in the gaming industry hasn’t stopped local businessmen Matt Rossman and Bruce Studer from generating a ballot initiative which would allow for the construction of Oregon’s first non-tribal casino and resort at the former Multnomah Greyhound Park.  According to the Daily Journal of Commerce Oregon, they hope to gain approval from the secretary of state to begin gathering the needed 100,000 signatures for the ballot initiative this spring.  The two believe Oregon’s high unemployment rate provides ideal conditions for their project to move forward.

Spectrum Gaming Group, an independent research and professional services firm, has recently listed 21 of the most important trends that the global casino industry needs to monitor in 2010.  Among those trends:

– Consumers continue to “deleverage” their personal balance sheets, paying down debt and increasing savings, making it more difficult for casinos to reach pre-recession revenue levels.

– Continued conversion of racetracks to racinos.

– Increasing reliance on non-traditional sources of financing, such as private equity, as traditional lenders and investors shy away from gaming.

– Major tribal operators will seek new opportunities in commercial gaming to boost their brands and leverage their loyalty programs and the low tax rates at their home properties.

– Off-reservation gaming becomes an increasingly heated issue in Washington and in state capitals, with existing tribal operators staking out positions on both sides, seeking to lobby the Obama Administration to either retain or amend the Bush policies limiting such casinos to within 50 miles of the reservation.

– States seeking new sources of revenue in continued fiscal crisis look to new forms of gaming.

– Demographics of gaming in major markets, particularly Las Vegas, shifts as lower-income adults step in to take advantage of continued downward pressure on room rates and packages.
For the full list of gaming trends, visit http://www.spectrumgaming.com/trends/

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