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Tribal gaming impact study shows a boon for rural Oklahoma

Tribal gaming impact study shows a boon for rural Oklahoma
(MNN File Photo) Tribal gaming is having a tremendous impact on state employment numbers in rural areas.

“As Oklahoma counties and rural areas have been losing population, it’s the tribes that are continuing to provide a sustainable economic engine that are allowing some of these economies to thrive.” –OCU Center for Native American and Urban Studies Director Kyle Dean

Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer

Tribal gaming employment impact is 42,700 people, $2.275 billion

OKLAHOMA CITY — A recent study on the impact of tribal gaming has indicated an economic and employment boon for rural areas.

The study was conducted by Kyle Dean, director of the Center for Native American and Urban Studies at Oklahoma City University.

Dean has conducted similar studies in the past, but this year’s featured a focus on the impact in rural regions.

“This year was kind of interesting because we decided to break it out by region,” he said. “The reason we wanted to do that is because Oklahoma has been urbanizing in earnest for decades and lot of people that want to continue to live in rural areas depend upon some form of employment. The tribes actually can be a source of rural employment that allows those rural communities to have some sustainability.”

According to Dean, the numbers indicated tribes directly employ around 28,000 people in their gaming establishments, with approximately two-thirds of those jobs in rural areas.

The study indicated a dollar amount impact of about $6.3 billion from the 131 establishments surveyed in the state of Oklahoma, with about 60% of that impact occurring in rural communities.

“As Oklahoma counties and rural areas have been losing population, it’s the tribes that are continuing to provide a sustainable economic engine that are allowing some of these economies to thrive,” Dean said. “And that’s a good thing because there are people that prefer to live in rural areas, and the reason people move to cities frequently is because that’s where jobs are.”

Not only is the impact benefitting the state and its rural regions as a whole, but the economic opportunities created also address an area of need for tribes, such as MCN, to sustain some of these areas that need development.

Dean also noted that in the study, when you consider a gaming facility and its employees in the area that they are placed in, several other effects are felt.

Employees eat in the local restaurants, they buy goods and services at local shops, so there is much more of an impact in these areas accounted for than just the employment at the facilities alone.

“When you account from all those additional effects, we found that state-wide the total employment that we could contribute to tribal gaming was about 42,700 people,” said Dean.

The study indicated earnings from that total employment number as contributing $2.275 billion into the state’s economy.

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