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Oklahoma Becomes 4th-largest Gambling Market in U.S.

9 March 2011 by admin

oklahomaWhen you think of casino gambling in the United States, I doubt Oklahoma is one of the first places that comes to mind. In fact, it might not come to mind at all. Did you even know that Oklahoma has casinos? It’s likely that you immediately think of Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. While the industries in those two markets are stagnant, though, it is booming in the Sooner state.

Oklahoma now ranks fourth in the U.S. in terms of gambling revenue. According to the annual Indian Gaming Industry Report, which was released last week, Oklahoma casinos made $3.12 billion in gambling revenue and another $442 million in nongaming casino revenue last year, which accounts for hotel rooms, drinks, food and more.

That means last year, Oklahoma passed Louisiana ($2.9 billion) for fourth place and is not far behind New Jersey, which made $3.7 billion last year. They are still a comfortable distance from the top two states, though. California casinos brought in $6.9 billion and Nevada tops the country with $10.4 billion.

Things are looking up for Oklahoma, though. The casino industries in Nevada and New Jersey are struggling. The U.S. casino industry as a whole had a 1% decline in revenue last year. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s gambling revenue increased by 7% and seems to be still heading upward.

Oklahoma does not allow casinos on state land, but it does have 111 gambling facilities run by 31 different tribes. Those facilities include everything from pari-mutuels to full Vegas-style casino resorts. The biggest tribe in the state for gambling is the Cherokee Nation, which now employs more than 3,500 in its casinos. That is a 500% increase from this time one decade ago.

The tribes use revenue from gambling to invest in various social services, job creation and businesses unrelated to gambling. Gaming officials in the Sooner State see no evidence of the industry slowing from last year. Still, they believe that the key to remaining prosperous is for the tribes to upgrade the amenities at the casinos to attract more tourists.

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