A recent study of 13 of California’s 33 federally recognized tribal casinos – including Redding Rancheria’s Win-River Casino – illustrates the $7.5 billion economic clout annually of such establishments statewide even as Gov. Jerry Brown is contemplating next month expanding by two the number of Indian casinos.
Commissioned by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, the study by Beacon Economics calculates 52,000 jobs were created and nearly $515 million in taxes and revenues generated by tribal casinos during 2010 in support of California communities as well as 71 non-gaming tribes.
“California tribes made a promise to California voters. We promised we would provide for our people an land as governments. We would provide jobs for our people andd our neighbors. We would be good neighbors sharing responsibility for services like fire and police and environmental protection as well as supporting non-profits and public entities that contribute to the quality of life in our regions,” stated Daniel J. Tucker, chairman of the tribal association, who addressed an 11:30 a.m. press conference Wednesday, Aug. 8, in Sacramento prior to the study’s release.
“This is our first report card and I am proud of it,” Tucker said of the study.
“We have done well for our people, our neighbors, local and state governments and California taxpayers, as well as providing financial assistance for 71 other tribes to assist them in building a foundation for economic independence,” he added.
“Our analysis shows that California tribal government gaming has a $7.5 billion annual impact and supports more than 52,000 jobs for state residents,” said Chris Thornberg, a founding partner of Beacon Economics.
The California data was compared with a 2010 study compiled by the National Indian Gaming Commission of 422 tribal government gaming operations throughout the United States that generated almost $30 billion in gaming revenues while California accounting for more than 26 percent or $6.9 billion of those revenues, Beacon Economic found.
The study purportedly dispels several common misconceptions of tribal government gaming in regards to economic factors, Thornberg pointed out.
One misconception – that economic benefits come at the cost of higher crime and other harmful social consequences – was dispelled by a separate study published in the April 2000 edition of the Journal of Gambling Studies and conducted by Jonathan B. Taylor, Matthew B. Krepps and Patrick Wang, he said.
That study surveyed 100 communities across the United States including 24 with a nearby non-Indian casino and 16 with tribal government gaming. The research concluded that instead of creating or increasing negative social impacts such as crime, the introduction of tribal government gaming served as a developmental tool benefiting both the Indian tribe as well as the non-Indian neighbors because such casinos are traditionally located in rural, non-developed areas.
A more recent (2009) study by the National Conference of State Legislatures was also cited: “In addition to relieving the state of its obligation to provide services to a particular group of state citizens that frequently may be ‘hard-to-serve’ because they reside on reservations in a remote, rural area, tribally administered programs also can benefit both (tribal and non-tribal) governments by meeting the specific needs of tribal citizens and using their particular cultural philosophies in the design of their programs.”
In fact, many tribal governments with gaming concerns have already started to provide or expand public an social services whether on tribal land or off to tribal as well as non-tribal members, the Beacon Economics study shows.
A good example of that is Redding Rancheria, which employs more than 600 people and operates a large day-care and Head Start program, a regional nutrition program and recently expanded its health care and dental center, said Maria Orozco, public relations director for Redding Rancheria.
Since Redding Rancheria and the Sycuan Band of the Kumayaay Nation near San Diego were two of the original tribal nations to help jumpstart the Beacon Economics study, each will be featured in a series of television advertisements produced for the gaming association, she said.
Ads featured in the ‘Strengthening Our Fabric” campaign, unveiled Wednesday, Aug. 8, in Sacramento during a gaming association dinner and reception, include shots of several Shasta County businesses and governmental service providers including brief vignettes with Anderson Police Captain Robert Kirvin and members of the Happy Valley Fire Protection District, Orozco said.
Both agencies have recently benefitted directly from Redding Rancheria and/or Win-River Casino through the receipt of grants.
For example, Anderson Police Department received $71,400 for an incident command SUV and a portable roadside messaging board from funds paid into the statewide Indian Gaming Fund to mitigate impacts caused by tribal gaming.
Local grant applications are then processed by Redding Rancheria’s Local Community Benefit Committee and paid out through the State Special Distribution Fund, Orozco said.