Regional trade association MIGA says that tribal casinos are one of the most popular attractions in the entire state – and provide a plethora of benefits to the wider economy.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he latest report from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) has been released, with claims that the state’s tribal casino industry is the now second most-popular tourism pull in the region.
“The Economic Impact of Indian Gaming in Minnesota” report was conducted by market research firm Klas Robinson QED on behalf of the local trade association – and detailed that the state’s 19 tribal properties had enjoyed footfall in excess of 23m people last year, second only to the Mall of America in Minneapolis–Saint Paul.
The report also highlighted the employment opportunities the casino industry offers Minnesota residents. As of 2015, the state’s 11 federally-recognised tribes employed over 13,000 people by way of their various gaming establishments. The majority of these roles were located in rural areas, with a significant proportion of them (31 per cent) filled by tribal citizens. In this guise, tribal gaming operations constitute the 14th largest employer statewide.
Direct expenditures in the form of wages to the numerous employees, and purchases of goods and services from various suppliers and industries bring an increased measure of vitality to the region.
Whilst tribal operators are not obliged to pay gaming tax to the state’s coffers, perhaps the most significant finding of the MIGA report was how much direct and indirect annual output tribal gaming generates for Minnesota: the trade body says that business related to its membership’s casino, hotel and restaurant operations is worth an estimated $1.8bn (E1.6bn) every year for the state.
“Tribal enterprises, such as Minnesota Indian casinos and their related ancillary facilities, have a direct impact, not only on their respective tribes, but on the economy of the entire state of Minnesota,” the report stated. “Direct expenditures in the form of wages to the numerous employees, and purchases of goods and services from various suppliers and industries bring an increased measure of vitality to the region.”
Regarding investment, over the course of the past 25 years Minnesota Indian Gaming ventures have collectively spent in excess of $2.5bn (E2.2bn) by way of construction and improvement efforts. Recent years have been no exception: 2015 saw regional tribes plough $200m (E178m) into expansions and refurbishments, with an additional $300m (E267m) of new work outlined for completion by the end of the current year.
According to a report in Twin Cities-based newspaper the Star Tribune, the tax-exempt status of the local sovereign nations has “generated tension over the years.” Accordingly, MIGA executive director John McCarthy said of the group’s latest report: “the primary purpose was to show, scientifically, that tribal gaming is important to the whole state.”