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Tribal activities make $10.8B impact on Oklahoma's economic output, study suggests

An Oklahoma City University report suggests that the state's 38 federally recognized Indian tribes produce an estimated $10.8 billion impact on the state's production of goods and services, with more than 70 percent of that total coming from the tribes' gambling operations.
by Don Mecoy Modified: October 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm •  Published: October 16, 2012

Oklahoma's 38 federally recognized Indian tribes produce an estimated $10.8 billion impact in the state's production of goods and services, with more than 70 percent of that effect coming from the tribes' gambling operations, according a report issued Tuesday.

Tribal government and business operations directly employ more than 50,000 people, and support a total of 87,174 full-time jobs in the state, according to an analysis by the Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University. Gaming accounted for more than half of those jobs, the report said.

Indians represent nearly 13 percent of Oklahoma's population, according to the 2010 Census. The total direct and indirect economic impact of the tribes represents 7 percent of the state's total economic output in 2010.

State Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez said the analysis reflects the “significant” influence that tribes have on Oklahoma's economy.

While much of the tribes' impact is grounded in gambling, Lopez said the study reflects a growing economic diversity among Indian ventures in Oklahoma.

The analysis also provides a tool that never has been available to the state to make decisions, Lopez said.

“What it does for the Commerce Department is to get us really more focused on where we can bring our resources to bear,” he said.

Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle said the study “erases any doubt” about the substantial affect of tribal economic activities and investments.

“They are having a huge impact, especially in rural Oklahoma where jobs are historically in short supply,” Pyle said in a statement.

Tribal business operations, including gaming, professional services and retail, generated $5.6 billion in revenue, the report estimated. More than $4.8 billion of that revenue was estimated to come from gaming operations, the report said.

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by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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