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Wipfli releases 23rd annual Cost of Doing Business Report for tribal gaming

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Report includes strategies to help tribal gaming rebound after COVID-19

Down, but not out. The Indian gaming industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 75% of tribal gaming casinos Wipfli surveyed for the 23rd annual Cost of Doing Business Report were closed for one to three months during the year. More than half were operating at limited capacity at year-end.

The shutdown cost tribes billions of dollars and a key source of funding in their gaming enterprises. However, during the recovery phase, many tribal casinos reopened without traditional loss leaders like buffets, which operate with higher operating and wage costs, and this had led to increased overall profitability.   

The odds are still good for the industry.

Government relief helped cover payroll and eligible expenses in 2020, which limited casino losses overall. Many casinos adopted technology and remote-working practices for the first time, which could be leveraged in new, more efficient operating models. And importantly, Indian casinos attracted new guests during the pandemic — who found them safe, clean, friendly and fun — and keep coming back.

The 2021 Indian Gaming Cost of Doing Business Report includes comprehensive financial performance data for tribal casinos, including direct impacts from the pandemic. It’s the only industry report of its kind, built from data from 117 Native American organizations in 16 states.

Casino operators can use this report to measure their performance against peers, and to build strategies that help them come back stronger and more resilient.

Get the report