Washington, D.C.-based National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) recently released data showing revenues generated by the Indian gaming industry in 2012 totaled $27.9 billion. These revenues are the highest ever and this year marks the third consecutive year of growth of gross gaming revenues (GGR) since the recession began in 2008.

“In 2012, the Indian gaming industry saw its largest gross gaming revenues ever,” said Tracie Stevens, chairwoman, NIGC, in a prepared statement. “For those who judge casino spending as an indicator of increased discretionary spending and economic recovery, 2012 revenues certainly display economic encouragement.”

The 2012 GGR of $27.9 billion represents 2.7 percent growth in revenue from the 2011 GGR of $27.2 billion. The overall growth of GGR in 2012 is attributable to 66 percent of the Indian gaming operations, which reported an increase in gaming revenues. Of the operations that reported an increase in revenue, approximately 44 percent showed moderate growth of less than 10 percent.

“Regulation has played a key role in the growth of the Indian gaming industry,” said Dan Little, an associate commissioner for the NIGC. “Over the last three years our regulatory review has provided much needed reform to meet the needs of the changing industry and provide flexibility and consistency for tribes and tribal regulators.”

Among the report’s findings:

Growth attributed to small and moderate gaming operations—Small and moderate gaming operations make up 56 percent of Indian gaming. Many Indian tribes use gaming revenues to fund economic development activities on reservations and more effective provision of tribal government services, including health services, early education programs and language and cultural preservation activities.

In 2012, 98 Indian gaming operations reported gaming revenue between $10 million and $25 million, 70 Indian gaming operations reported gaming revenue between $3 million and $10 million and 69 Indian gaming operations reported gaming revenue less than $3 million.

“These numbers illustrate that the majority of tribal gaming operations are small to mid-size,” said Stevens. “The industry is driven by the demographics of each area. Most tribal gaming operations are in rural parts of the country where jobs are greatly needed for both natives and non-natives alike.”

All regions show growth in revenues—Continuing the trend that began in 2011, all seven regions tracked in the report experienced growth in 2012. The largest increase in GGR, 5.1 percent, or $233 million, occurred within the St. Paul Region, which consists of 120 gaming operations across nine Great Plains states. The Tulsa Region, which consists of 64 gaming operations in Kansas and eastern Oklahoma, had the largest percentage increase from 2011—6.6 percent or $125 million.

 The NIGC’s GGR release provides the most comprehensive look at the revenues of the Indian gaming industry each year. GGR also provides a regional view of revenues figures for the more than 420 gaming establishments, associated with nearly 240 tribes across 28 states. The 2012 GGR is calculated based on independently audited financial statements received by the NIGC through June 20, 2013. Financial statements are submitted by Indian gaming operations in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Gaming revenues represent the net win from gaming activities, which is the difference between gaming receipts and payouts.