Tribal Casino tax revenue: (View the larger map here)
Source: Oklahoma Office of State Finance
The tribe’s payout increased by a third over 2008, an increase officials attribute to the expansion of WinStar World Casino near Thackerville. The half-mile-long casino off Interstate 35 near the Texas border now ranks as one of the largest casinos in the country, officials said. The Choctaw Nation, which paid the state about $21.5 million in gaming revenue, has been spiffing up its casinos, said Janie Dillard, the tribe’s executive director of gaming. The Choctaws have opened new casinos this year in McAlester, Stringtown and Grant to replace old ones, she said. New casinos are set to open next year in Durant and Idabel. The tribe paid the state 20 percent more in fiscal year 2009 than it did the year before. The Cherokee Nation, the third-largest contributor in gaming funds, did not experience as much of an increase, but officials said that was expected. The tribe was among the first to add Class III electronic games, Cherokee Nation Entertainment CEO David Stewart said, so its growth numbers have stabilized. Contributing: Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau; Database Editor Paul Monies
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Indian gaming generated more than $26.7 billion in gross revenue in 2008 at about 400 tribal casinos and bingo halls, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. The two regions that include parts of Oklahoma showed the strongest growth over 2007, netting about $3 billion. Oklahoma is home to 104 gaming operations in the region that also includes Texas and Kansas, according to the commission’s figures. Those states have only six gaming operations.