Report says California’s $7.4 billion Indian gaming market will continue to deteriorate in many regional markets

California’s $7.4 billion Indian gaming market will continue to deteriorate through the first half of 2010 in many regional markets, a new Fitch Ratings report says, and lingering weakness in real estate, unemployment and a drag on consumer spending are the culprits.

Fitch director Megan Neuburger said in the report, cited by theDesert Sunof Palm Springs, that turmoil in the credit markets and limited access to capital for gaming operators prompted the firm to rate the near-term outlook for gaming operating trends as poor, and that gaming revenues at most properties, especially in regional markets hit hardest by recession, will post another year-over-year decline in 2009.

“California's regional gaming markets have not been immune to the many negative factors affecting the industry during this economic recession,” the report said.

That downturn stands in stark contrast to the massive growth noted in Southern California through 2008, as the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Morongo Band of Mission Indians and Cabazon Band of Mission Indians built some of the newest and tallest casino hotels in the region.

Other tribes operating casinos in the area are the Augustine Band of Mission Indians, Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians and Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. Tribes operating casinos in competing markets include the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.