Smoke-free casino to open as Oklahoma Indian gaming revenue continues rise

The Kaw Nation is planning to open a totally smoke-free casino this spring at its tribal headquarters in Kaw City as the state's Indian gaming industry continues to expand. Oklahoma Indian gaming produced nearly $3.48 billion in revenues in 2011 — a 7.7 percent increase over the previous year.
by Randy Ellis Published: February 27, 2013

Oklahoma Indian gaming produced nearly $3.48 billion in revenues in 2011 — a 7.7 percent increase over the previous year's total of $3.23 billion, according to a report released early Wednesday by a California economist.

Oklahoma's 2011 Indian gaming revenue growth rate was more than double the 3.4 percent national Indian gaming growth rate, according to the 2013 edition of Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report by economist Alan Meister, of Nathan Associates Inc.

Nationally, Indian gaming generated about $27.43 billion in 2011, Meister reported.

Oklahoma tribes also generated about $493.4 million in nongaming revenue from patron expenditures on food, beverages, lodging, shopping and entertainment at gaming facilities in 2011, Meister said. That was a 7.9 percent increase over the previous year.

Casino City is just now reporting revenue data for 2011 because of the time required to gather, analyze and publish the report.

Kaw Nation casino

The report did include more up-to-date information on recent and planned expansions, including the Kaw Nation's plans this spring to open a 100 percent nonsmoking casino in Kaw City, about 15 miles northeast of Ponca City.

Pam Shaw, general manager of casinos for the Kaw Nation, said several tribes have tried nonsmoking sections of casinos, but as far as she knows, this will be the first and only totally smoke-free casino in the state.

Shaw said people always say nonsmoking casinos won't make money but said she has received a lot of positive comments since the tribe revealed its plans.

“I think it's going to be good,” she said.

The Kaw Nation hopes to open the casino by the first week of April. It plans to start small with 78 electronic games, Shaw said.

If it does well, perhaps it will become a trend, she said.

Compact fee collection fell in 2011, rose in 2012

Nationwide, six large casinos opened in 2011, including two in Oklahoma — the Thunderbird Casino-Shawnee operated by the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, with 254 machines, and the Golden Eagle Casino in Apache operated by the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, with 240 machines, Meister reported.

While Oklahoma Indian gaming revenues increased 7.7 percent in 2011, the amount of fees the state received from tribal compact fees actually decreased from $122.7 million in calendar year 2010 to $121.7 million in 2011, state officials said.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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More information about the report is available at www.casinocitypress.com.

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