Wipfli logo

Wipfli News

Tribal gaming experienced record highs last year, despite ongoing macroeconomic challenges

Monday, August 22, 2022

24th annual Cost of Doing Business Report released

This is a comeback story for the Indian gaming industry.

Tribal casinos rebounded in the past year, regaining ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Wipfli’s tribal gaming Cost of Doing Business report.

Pent-up demand flowed into tribal casinos and helped gaming operators achieve record-level profits and revenues, despite ongoing economic challenges.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Average revenue increased 27% over the prior year, while many casinos saw expenses drop.
  • Operating expense margins fell more than 13 percentage points, on average.
  • Table games continued to be a labor-intensive, profit-generating tool, although less profitable than slot machines. Casinos learned they could make more money on fewer machines, and patrons enjoyed the extra space created by social distancing measures.
  • Marketing, promotions and wages were the most significant expenses in most casinos. Like other industries, casinos fought for discretionary dollars in a tightening economy, and a nationwide labor shortage increased worker costs.
  • The average net profit percentage was around 36%. That means about 36 cents of every dollar in revenue was available to tribal governments in 2021 — up from 18% in 2020.

Additional financial data is summarized in the 24th edition of Wipfli’s Cost of Doing Business Report. To build the report, Wipfli surveyed 115 Native American organizations in 17 states. Cost of Doing Business is the only industry report that quantifies and compares the financial performance of Indian gaming facilities.

Tribes can use the data to establish new, post-COVID baselines, develop plans to sustain last year’s momentum and built resilient operations. This year, the report also includes strategic recommendations from Wipfli gaming specialists.

Media inquiries: Contact Sara Snyder