Despite not all of Oklahoma’s casinos being open, and pandemic-related capacity limits in place at those that are, the state government is seeing the results of pent-up demand.
Per the terms of the gaming compact between Tribes and the state, the Tribes direct 4% to 6% of their adjusted gross revenue from Class III games to the government in what are known as exclusivity fees. The Tribes also send the state 10% of the net win from table games each month.
Exclusivity fees in January 2021 totaled $12.4m, up 15% from the $10.7m the Tribes contributed to the state budget in January 2020.
These fees are paid one month after the casinos realize the revenue, making January the most recent month for which the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association has figures available.
Oklahoma has seen a whiplash in collections from the Tribal casinos over the past year, thanks to closures by state and local health authorities.
Prior to the shutdown on 23 March, 2020, the OIGA was projecting exclusivity fee payments of $155m to $165m for the state’s fiscal year, which runs 1 July to 30 June.
However, during the period of February to June 2020, the Tribes sent the state just $45.6m, down from $61.5m in the same five-month stretch one year earlier.
In April 2020, the Tribes paid a mere $20,804 compared to $14.5m in April 2019.
Some casinos started reopening on 12 May, 2020, but the damage was done. Total exclusivity fees for FY 2020 dropped $24.6m from the previous fiscal year.
However, patrons seem to be coming back, allowing the casinos to generate revenue that is at least approaching previous levels. According to the state, including January’s strong figure, Tribes have paid $87.6m in exclusivity fees in the period of 1 July, 2020 to 31 January, 2021, off just 2% from the $89.5m paid during the same seven-month period the previous fiscal year.