Elected officials, tribal gaming leaders, and industry representatives met in Tulsa, OK to discuss the impact of gaming on Oklahoma’s economy and communities.
Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), joined the panel, saying, “For nearly three decades, sovereign tribal nations and gaming companies have been engines of growth and opportunity in the state of Oklahoma, creating partnerships with local organizations, supporting area small businesses, and providing good jobs for workers of all backgrounds. Today, we’re pleased to spotlight how the relationships between Oklahoma’s tribal nations, elected officials, small business owners, and community leaders serve as a model of success for states around the nation.”
The event was held in tandem with the release of the AGA’s Casinos and Communities: Oklahoma report, which offers an in-depth look at how the gaming industry supports local communities in the Sooner State. According to the report, Oklahoma’s 141 tribal and commercial casinos support 75,885 jobs and $4.3 billion in wages in the state, amounting to $9.8 billion in total economic impact and $1.7 billion in taxes and tribal revenue share payments.
$1.7 billion generated in taxes and tribal revenue share payments
75,885 jobs supported
$9.8 billion in total economic impact
$4.3 billion in supported wages
Speaking on the gaming industry’s investment in communities, Choctaw Nation Senior Executive Officer Janie Dillard shared that the Choctaw Nation is “all about servant leadership,” working in partnership with surrounding communities to make road improvements, build fire stations, and lead infrastructure improvements. She concluded, “We’ve taken those casino dollars and reinvested into our local communities.”
Cherokee Nation Dep. Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo briefed the audience on the “life-changing impact of gaming proceeds,” relaying, “[Cherokee Nation] is set this year to open a 469,000 square-foot outpatient facility at a cost of $200 million. We are also, next year, opening the first tribally affiliated medical school in the United States…we were able to do that only because of gaming proceeds.”
Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Commerce Bill Lance emphasized that responsible gaming is the foundation of the gaming industry, describing how Oklahoma tribes earmark funds to support problem gambling treatment, maintain a state-wide self-exclusion database, conduct extensive employee training programs, offer robust mental healthcare to tribe members, and partner with the Oklahoma Association of Problem and Compulsive gaming.
U.S. Representative Tom Cole (OK-04), a fifth generation Oklahoman and enrolled member of Chickasaw Nation, called the establishment of tribal gaming “the single most transformative economic development in recent Oklahoma history,” as it has led to tribes becoming the third largest employer in the state. He elaborated that, because of gaming, tribes have “brought in more outside investment and job creation than anybody else could,” especially to the traditionally most challenged regions of Oklahoma. Cole added, “[tribal gaming] has been a goose that has been laying a lot of golden eggs for the people of Oklahoma.”
Additional panelists included Rep. Kendra Horn (OK-05), as well as Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell, who moderated the discussion.
- Point of View: Oklahoma’s casinos, communities working together to spur growth, The Oklahoman
- American Gaming Association: Oklahoma Gaming Supports Small Businesses, Native Business
- AGA hails gaming as engine of growth as tour lands in Oklahoma, SBC Americas
- Casino gaming industry brings growth to Oklahoma, Casino Beats
Rep. Tom Cole
U.S. Representative (OK-04)
Senior Executive Officer, Choctaw Nation
Rep. Kendra Horn
U.S. Representative (OK-05)
Secretary of Commerce, Chickasaw Nation
President and CEO, American Gaming Association
Dep. Attorney General, Cherokee Nation
Lt. Governor of Oklahoma