Indigenous-owned gaming contributes billions to WA economy

The 12 Tribes Omak Casino Hotel is one of many indigenous-operated establishments offering recreational gambling in Washington state. COURTESY PHOTO/GOOGLE MAPS

OLYMPIA — The Washington Indian Gaming Association said the state’s tribal casinos contributed $6.6 billion to the state’s economy in 2019 and $5.6 billion during pandemic-shuttered 2020, all while providing around 55,000 jobs for Washington residents.

“Tribes are running gaming and other business not to generate private profits, but to fund critically needed government services for some of the poorest and most historically marginalized communities in Washington State,” said Rebecca George, WIGA executive director and an enrolled member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the gaming association announced the release of a study on the contributions of tribal gaming to the Washington state economy. The press release said that casinos owned and operated by the state’s 29 federally-recognized tribes paid roughly $1.5 billion in wages and benefits and generated $1.2 billion in state and local taxes through associated economic activity.

According to the press release, the study found the tribes themselves employed around 37,000 people while another 54,000 jobs can be traced back to tribal gaming activity — with more than 70% of those jobs held by non-tribal members — making the tribes the state’s seventh-largest employer.

The report noted that tribal gaming has grown significantly since 2004 when tribal gaming contributed roughly $2 billion to the state’s economy and tribes directly employed around 13,000 people.

“Our commitment to responsible gaming activities along with a diverse […]

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