Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico/Chico, California 95929-0400
Telephone: 530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6143
e-mail: and home page:

24 February 2004 [1]

[This page printed from]

(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on February 24, 2004, for a presentation on this date (with numerous visuals) in Professor Sarah Richardson's RECR 198C (Leisure and Popular Culture) at CSU, Chico.


"If you wanna make money in a casino, own one." Steve Wynn (cited by David Spanier, 1992, Welcome To The Pleasuredome: Inside Las Vegas, page 17).

Information concerning gaming/gambling in northern California is as close as the Chico News & Review, the Enterprise-Record, Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle or the Internet! One can also drive to Oroville (twenty-two miles away, and the location of two Native American casinos) or out to Interstate Highway 5 (and a Native American casino in Corning). Much of today's presentation draws on earlier papers (currently available on the World Wide Web) but new information is presented below. The references at the end of this paper have various degrees of overlap so it is best to read, or glance at them, in reverse chronological order. When I discuss this huge industry, I refer to it as a "gambling" industry (while the industry itself uses the term gaming or entertainment). Make no mistake: when you go into a casino, your are gambling that you will come out a winner! As written elsewhere: "Research indicates that individuals go to casinos (1) to gamble (or take risks), (2) to regain some control over their lives, and/or (3) to feel that they are important!" Charles F. Urbanowicz, 2001, Gambling Into The 21st Century. Hosts And Guests Revisited: Tourism Issues of the 21st Century, edited by Valene Smith and Maryann Brent (NY: Cognizant Communication Corp.), pp. 69-79, page 70.


"The U.S. gaming-entertainment industry has seen tremendous change over the last decade. As recently as 1988, only two states permitted casino gaming--Nevada and New Jersey--and now, as we approach 2003, with Indian gaming included, 28 states have casino gaming. Today, only two states--Hawaii and Utah--have no legalized gaming whatsoever [stress added]." Charles R. Goeldner and J.R. Brent Richie, 2003, Tourism: Principles, Practices, Philosophies (Ninth Edition) (NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), page 211.

Even with the above introductory statement in mind, please remember that the USA has a lengthy history of interest in gaming (called "gambling" or "entertainment" to some) and whatever one calls the process, it generates a tremendous amount of profit for those involved in it, has great visibility, and is creating some interesting partnerships. Four events contributed to today's domestic gambling: (#1) State lotteries, beginning in New Hampshire in 1964; (#2) Hilton Hotels and Holiday Inn entering this industry (in 1970 and 1978); (#3) the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by the United States Congress in 1988; (#4) and human nature. A great deal is going on right now in this area (and my own research interests have shifted), but I still follow some aspects of this area and there are certain variables that can be utilized to look at the process/product of this volatile topic: profits, patrons, and the politics involved. In analyzing the specifics of the state of Nevada, Hal Rothman (Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) has the following:

"The transformation of Las Vegas from a mob-dominated gambling town to corporate-owned modern resort began with two related events. The first was the arrival of reclusive billionaire Howard R. Hughes at a suite atop the Desert Inn in Las Vegas in his typically bizarre fashion on the eve of Thanksgiving, 1966. ... Hughes bought the place for about $13 million and remained cloistered in the penthouse for four years. The purchase was the first in a buying spree that included the Frontier, for which hiughes paid $14 million, the Sands, $14.6 million, Castaways, $3 million, the $17 million Landmark and its nearly $9 million Teamsters pension fund loan, and the Silver Slipper. ... The second change made the mobsters who sold out wince. In 1967, at th behest of William F. Harrah and Baron and Conrad Hilton, with the support of Nevada Governor Paul Laxalt, the state passed the Corporate Gaming Act, which eliminated the requirements that each stockholder had to pass a Gaming Control Board background check. Governor Grant Sawyer had fought this law while in office, believing it would only institutionalize organized crime, but Laxalt had no such qualms. Passage of the law opened the door for an infusion of corporate capital and raised the staked in gaming. Corporations could now invest, inaugurating a new capital regime that brought Las Vegas closer to the primary avenues of capital formation. The first purchases by major multinational hotel chains quickly followed. In 1970, the Hilton Corporation purchased the Flamingo and the International from Kirk Kerkorian, another self-made multimillionaire seeking to make Las Vegas his own. ... With the arrival of Hilton and its enormous success in Las Vegas--by 1976, 43 percent of the gross revenues of the 163-hotel chain came from its Las Vegas operations--legitimate capital became widely available. Holiday Inn and Ramada folowed close behind Hilton, and a new financing supported the development of Las Vegas [stress added]." Hal Rothman, 2002, Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started The Twenty-First Century (NY/London: Routledge), pages 20-22.

Consider some"numbers" over the past years and know that in 1991, Las Vegas had approximately 19,000,000 visitors a years and by 2003, over 36,000,000 flocked to the city. Similar growth occured elsewhere in the nation:

"According to casino industry sources, the number of American households visiting casinos between 1990 and 1993 doubled, from 46 million to 92 million. More than three-quarters of this increase was the result of people visiting casinos outside of Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey [stress added]." Robert Goodman, 1995, The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences And Broken Promises of America's Gambling Explosion (Free Press), page 3. 


"The Travel Channel's 13-week WORLD POKER TOUR series has been a ratings success on television, quickly becoming the highest-rated programming on the network in 2003, highlighting poker's growth and popularity. The show continues to capture new fans, as well as to captivate many of the nation's 50 million poker enthusiasts. This year's World Series of Poker attracted a record 839 players and $2.5 million was won by a player who qualified by winning an online tournament at [stress added]." [from: PrimeZoneMedia Network,, February 12, 2004]

It is perfectly clear that a single event (or physical object) when viewed through different lenses, or by different individuals, can have a different meaning (especially at different points in time). When one discusses something like "gaming or gambling" anywhere, there are those who view the event as gaming, gambling, or entertainment. For those who watched the poker series on television, it was clearly entertainment; for those who participated, it was a job, and for the industry offering it, it was a bit of a gamble...but: "When NBC recently aired the Travel Channel World Poker Tour's (WPT) Battle of Champions opposite the [2004] Super Bowl pre-game show, the poker tournament drew the second highest ratings in the time slot behind the quintessential football event itself [stress added]." [from: PokerMag, Poker Draws Major Attention,, February 13, 2004].

It is also clear that there are various interpretations of what gaming/gambling is doing to individuals: one may read a 1993 article entitled "Heavy Gambling Is Not a Disease" side-by-side a 1992 article entitled "Pathological Gambling Is a Psychiatric Disorder" and the following major points: "Pathological Gambling Is Similar to Addiction....Pathological Gamblers Often Get into Debt....Pathological Gambling Has High Medical and Emotional Costs....Pathological Gamblers Are More Likely to Have Other Problems....Pathological Gamblers' Behavior Hurts Their Families....Pathological Gamblers have Problems at Work....Pathological Gambling Leads to Crime....[and] The Social Cost of Pathological Gambling Is Difficult to Measure, but it is Enormous." (Both of these articles appear in Rod L. Evans and Mark Hance, Editors, 1998, Legalized Gambling: For And Against [Chicago: Open Court]. Pathological Gambling Is a Psychiatric Disorder by Henry R. Lesieur, pages 37-53 and Heavy Gambling Is Not a Disease by Richard E. Vatz and Lee S. Weinberg, pages 54-63. There are obvious many points of view to this complex issue: recreation or a really big business!?

Destination locations are constantly changing to meet market (or patron) demands; when profits started to drop (as a result of competition elsewhere) consider the Las Vegas response:

" the mid-'90s, Sin City somehow turned into Family Town. ... That move turned out to be a bad hand for the casinos. Gamblers and big-money 'whales' didn't much like tripping over strollers. And casino owners found that the folks who came with kids didn't gamble much anyway. So Vegas has shifted gears again, returning to its raffish, risque Rat Pack roots.... the attendant rush to attract a sexy new customer: Think hormonally driven 24-to 40-year-olds with a heavy party bone and money to spend. In Strip-speak, you might call the new big spenders 'whales-in-training [stress added]." Cynthia Robins, November 2, 2003, Va-voom Vegas: Sin City returns to its traditional values--decadence. The San Francisco Chronicle, Datebook Section, pages 13-14.

"To keep sustomers and their cash inside the casinos--strategy No. 1 in Las Vegas--gambling operators have decided that it's OK to show a little skin. Forget family destination. A sexy casino is a profitable casino. ... Persuading men to play exclusively in their casino nightspots won''t be easy. Casinos are facing growing competition from strip clubs--both nude and topless. Thirty-one strip clubs operate in Clark County and Las Vegas, compared with about 40 major casinos on the strip. ... The so-called gentlemen's clubs are increasingly sophisticated, well-financed ventures. ... The hotel-casinos are responding by making nightspots sexier or by rolling out new ones that will attract men--lots of men. Casinos sell sex, or at least the hint of it, on billboards around the city. The Las Vegas Convention and visitors Authority airs commercials with the not-so-subtle message that anything is possible in Las Vegas. What happens in Las vegas, stays in Las Vegas, according to the ads [stress added]." Adam Goldman, 2003, Vegas strip clubs pose threat to casino profits. The Sacramento Bee, April 6, 2003, page D7.

One wonders what else will Las Vegas do to maintain its appeal? Las Vegas is already a major shopping destination and will this be enough to draw in new "gamblers" (or individuals seeking "gaming" entertainment) to Las Vegas? How long will Hawai'i be the only one of two states in the United States of America which lacks any form of legalized gambling? I predict that one day one island in the Hawai'ian Islands will have state-sanctioned casinos, with native Hawai'ians building on the "sovereignty" movement among Native Americans in the United States of America and IGRA (or the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) of 1988. Las Vegas (and other "gaming destinations" throughout the United States are continually modifying themselves to deal with changes in the economic marketplace: a new privately-funded four-mile long monorail is set to open in March 2004 on the Las Vegas "Strip" and downtown Las Vegas also continues to change:

"In September [2003], Las Vegas broke ground for the grandly named World Market Center, a $1 billion project that its developer said will almost certainly siphon business from the San Francisco Mart and the semiannual home furnishings trade shows in High Point, N.C. [stress added]." David Armstrong, 2004, Life in Vegas' new fast lane. The San Francisco Chronicle, February 20, 2004, pages B1 + B6, page B6.

Elsewhere in Nevada, Reno leaders have to change marketing strategies for the destination location:

"Promoting northern Nevada as an adventure playground, luring more conventions and customized marketing to loyal casino customers are keys to Reno's economic survival in the face of growing competition from tribal casinos, industry leaders were told Thursday [February 19, 2004]. ... Michael Silbering, senior vice president and general manager for Harrah's [sic] Reno, agreed that increasing competition will lead to Darwinism among some Reno casinos where only the fittest will survive [stress added]." Sandra Chereb, 2004, Diverse marketing called best bet for Reno. The San Francisco Chronicle, February 20, 2004, page A28.

I have some theories concerning this major "entertainment" industry in the world: the first theory is that all human beings "gamble" to some extent and the opportunities to gamble are increasing at lightning speed (or the electronic speed of the Internet and World Wide Web). The second theory is that I believe that individuals gamble because so much of our daily lives are beyond our control and we "gamble" to take back some control (and perhaps we are "entertained" by the games of chance). The third theory I have is that Native American "entertainment facilities" will continue to grow and grow throughout California (and the nation) and some will fail. I do not know which ones will collapse (nor when this will occur), but it will happen. Some statements I believe in are as follows: first, if you wish to "gamble" in any casino (or take any sort of risks in life), it is best if you "know before you go!" The second statement comes from an "industry" professional: Thomas Austin Preston (also known as Amarillo Slim) who stated it well when he was quoted as saying that some "dudes [are] in the category of guessers, and guessers are losers [stress added]. Anthony Holden, 1990, Big Deal: A Year As A Professional Poker Player, page 164.

"Gambling could be the fastest-growing cause of the record rates of bankruptcy in America this year [1997] , a consulting group says. ... The study found bankruptcy rates are 18 percent higher in counties with one gambling facility and 23 percent higher in counties with five or more gambling facilities. ... Between April and June, for example, bankruptcy filings hit a record 367,000, up 24 percent from 297,000 in the same period of 1996 ... The SMR [Research Corp. of Hackettstown, New Jersey] found that the counties with the highest bankruptcy rates in the nation were close to Tunica [Mississippi]. They are Shelby County (Memphis), Tenn., Marshall County, Miss., Crittenden County, Ark., Tipton County, Tenn., and Madison County, Tenn. The bankruptcy rate in Atlantic City, N.J. was 71 percent higher than in any other country in New Jersey last year, while Clark County, Nev., where Las Vegas is located, has the highest bankruptcy rate in that state [stress added]. Lance Gay, September 4, 1997, Why is bankruptcy soaring? Gambling, commission told. The Chico Enterprise-Record, page 7C.

You should be aware that Tunica, Mississippi, is the home of several major casinos, within easy driving distance of Memphis, Tennessee; and one could argue that the situation in Nevada is equally grim:

"Pick almost any index of social well-being and Nevada ranks at or near the very bottom of the 50 states, though it ranks near the top in personal wealth. Besides having the highest suicide rate (almost twice the national average), Nevada has the highest adult smoking rate and the highest death rate from smoking, the highest percentage of teenagers who are high school droupouts, the highest teenage pregnancy rate, and the highest rate of firearm death. Nevada ranked 45th among the states for overall health last year [2000], just above states such as West Virginia and Arkansas, compiled by United Health Group, a Minnesota-based health care company. Over the last 11 years, Nevada has scored between 43rd and 50th in the group's ranking, because of its high rate of smoking, big lack of health insurance and high premature death rate, among other problems. 'You name it, we got it,' said Bill Thompson, a professor of public admiistration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an expert on the state's reigning industry, gambling [stress added]." Todd S. Purdum, 2001, Nevada's glitz masks ailing society. The Sacramento Bee, May 19, 2001, pages A1 and A19.

In addition, a major part of the problem that Las Vegas, and other out-of-California vacation destinations have with future visitors, lies squarely within this state: Native American Gaming in California! 


"The truth about California Indians isn't pleasant. Driven from the land that sustained them, decimated by unfamiliar diseases, they were hunted to near-extinction during the Gold Rush. Once estimated at 300,000, only 15,000 remained by the 1900 census. Almost 95 percent of the original population had vanished." Anon., July 7, 2002, Native California still determined to set historical record straight [stress added]." The Chico Enterprise-Record, page 1D.

It is clear that Native Americans have suffered in the past, and many continue to suffer and have problems, irregardless of the burgeoning casino industry (or related diversified businesses):

"Though Indian gaming has become a huge business, bringing $14.5 billion in revenue nationwide in 2002, its benefits haven't been widespread. According to the National Indian Gaming Commission, 66% of the cash that year flowed into only 7% of the tribes, most of them located near large cities [stress added]." John J. Fialka, 2004, Tribe Gets Private-Sector Jobs: Winnebagos Build Profitable Businesses With Casino Seed Money. The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2004, page A4.

Consider, if you will, the following chart which appeared with the story cited just above:

















* = "Rates per 100,000 people; data in 1997." SOURCES: The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2004, page A4 (citing the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Senate Affairs Committee).

But the money that is flowing as a result of Native American casino (and related activities) is tremendous and Native American groups (and individuals) are changing. Native American gambling, gaming, or entertainment activities accelerated in the last century and continue to move with lightning speed in 2004! Prior to 1988, federally recognized Native American tribes and individual States had the authority to enter into various agreements concerning taxes as well as tribal social services. It was the United States Supreme Court decision in California versus Cabazon Band of Mission Indians (begun in 1986 and eventually decided in favor of the Cabazon in 1987) that resulted in the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988. California has several dozen Native America tribes that have formal "tribal-state gaming agreements" with the state and there are currently 54 Native American casinos operating within this state. As an "Editorial" in the Sacramento Bee of February 14, 2004, pointed out:

"California's 54 Indian casinos rake in somewhere between $4 billion and $6 billion a year. Casinos have transformed impoverished Indian tribes into economic powerhouses. It's hardly surprising that tribes without casinos want to tap into the state's lucrative gambling market. Many of these tribes have the coveted federal recognition but no land on which to build a casino. So they are shopping for land [stress added]." The Sacramento Bee, February 14, 2004, page B6.

In twelve years since the passage of IGRA in 1988, by the year 2000 the "net win from tribal gaming" in North America "finally surpassed Nevada's total" ( Hal Rothman, 2002, Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started The Twenty-First Century [NY/London: Routledge], page 34) and with all of this money came influence, or attention to politics:

"What do the Indian Nations of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and several other states have now that they did not have 15 years ago? The answer is political clout. ... According to Bill Eadington, a specialist in gambling economics at the University of Nevada-Reno, by the end of the decade the Indian casinos in California will be raking in $5.1 billion to $10.3 billion a year in gambling revenues. He said about half of this will be profits. The $5.1 billion figure is still higher than the income generated by the entire Las Vegas strip casinos [stress added]." Tim Giago, July 30, 2000, Jury Still Out On Indian Gaming's Impact. The San Francisco Chronicle, page 5.  

The casino profits are encouraging Native Americans to diversity beyond mere casino operations as the following points out:

"Fueled by cash from casinos, more and more tribes are difversifying their economic bases into enterprises that range from airplanes to automated transaction machines. ... For the Rumsey band ["of Wintun Indians, which operates the Cache Creek Indian Casino in Yolo County"] that diversity now includes owning a Ford dealership in Texas; being the Illinois government's biggest landlord in the capital of Springfield; and owning several buildings in the Sacramento area--including one on Watt Avenue that houses the internal Revenue Service--and agricultural and undeveloped land in the Capay Valley. Other California casino tribes are proving just as innovative in investing their chips. The Tule River Indian Reservation, near Porterville [CA], runs a company that remodels old small planes into state-of-the-art luxury aircraft. The tribe also operates a woodworking company that manufactures custom cabines. The Hopeland Band of Pomo County started a company that supplies automated cash transactions machines to the Bay Area Rapid transit District System. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians in San Bernadino County recently formed a partnership to provide wireless broadband Internet service to businesses in the Riverside area. The owners of the outlet mall, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, will take diversifying a step further Thursday [March 5, 2003]. The 281-member tribe will break ground on a $43 million hotel in Washington, D.C., near the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution. What makes it unique is that Viejas is teaming with three other casino tribes--one in California and two in Wisconsin--to bankroll the project. For the first time, tribes from around the country are pooling gambling revenues for major off-reservation investments [stress added]." Steve Wiegand, 2003, Tribes branch out beyond casinos. The Sacramento Bee, March 4, 2003, page A1 and A15.

Profits, however, need to be distributed among those who are eligible to partake in the operation and there have been major problems with Native Americans being disenfranchised from their tribes, for various reasons, because they were no longer being recognized as tribal members. On February 15, 2004, the Sacramento Bee had a story of 76 individuals who were voted out of the Redding Rancheria. This meant they were "stripped of their tribal membership--including health and education benefits and about $40,000 year per person from the tribe's Win-River Casino [stress added]." (Stephen Magagnini, 2004, For Tribes, Members Only. The Sacramento Bee, February 15, 2004, page A1 + A24, page A1.) Earlier in the same month the San Francisco Chronicle detailed the case of a southern California tribe wherein 130 individuals were going to be removed from the tribal roles: "If ousted, the 130 people could lose their $10,000 a month in casino revenues plus their reservation homes and other benefits [stress added]." Anon., 2004, Members lose in tribal dispute. The San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 2004, page A19.)

There is no mistaking that the potential dollar amounts are amazing for recognized tribal members and consider the following:

"In California, Christmas came early this year for the 100 members of the Table Mountain Rancheria [Friant, California], who over Thanksgiving picked up bonus checks of $200,000 each as their share of the table mountain Casino's profits. That was in addition to the monthly stipend of $15,000 each member receives [stress added]." Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele, Indians Casinos: Wheel of Misfortune, Time, December 16, 2002, pages 44-58, page 47.

Some have written that for Native Americans, "gaming is the return of the buffalo" but others phrase it as follows: "Some Indians say it's payback time for the land, culture, resources and human rights robbed from them at gunpoint, or stolen with broken treaties" [stress added]." Stephen Magagnini, 2003, On their land, tribes' law is word. The Sacramento Bee, April 6, 2003, page A1, A19, and A20, page A19.

Incidentally, the "Holy Grail" of Native American gaming destinations is the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation's Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Connecticut. (The chart at the end of this paper will provide you with some comparative numbers for various casinos: please look at these statistics carefully.) In January 2004, the Pequot Times reported the following:

"Foxwoods has reported the most successful November [2003] in its history, with both a record slot handle and a record net win during the month. The casino reported a slot win of $64.6 million on a handle of $801.6 million. The report, made to the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue, noted that the resort's owner, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, sent $16.2 million to the state from the month's proceeds. ... With November's contribution, the Tribal Nation has given $1.7 billion to Connecticut since the casino...began offering slots in January 1993 [stress added]." Anon., January 2004, The Pequot Times, page 11.

Looking to northern California, consider the recently opened Big Thunder Valley Casino in Placer County:

"The economic steamroller that is the Thunder Valley Casino showed no signs of slowing down in the last three months of 2003, according to numbers reported Thursday by the casino's management company. Station Casinos Inc., the Las Vegas-based firm that runs Thunder Valley for the United Auburn Indian Community, reported management fees of $17.2 million from the Placer County casino for October, November and December. The 240-member tribe zealously, and legally, guards income figures from the casino it opened in June [2003]. But Station, as a public company, is required to report the money it makes for managing the casino -- an amount equal to 24 percent of the casino's take. That extrapolates to $68.8 million in total revenues for the quarter, or about $275 million a year. And that makes the young casino one of the most financially successful in the world [stress added]." Steve Wiegand, 2004, Big Thunder Valley quarter. The Sacramento Bee, January 30, 2004, page D2.

Please consider the above words and the direct quote: " of the most financially successful in the world." There are some tremendous profits to be made when one knows about the patrons and one has political connections to take care of the process/product and changes in the industry are the natural order of things. Once again, as written elsewhere:

"Living is risky and as social scientists we have the obligation to make others aware of the risks involved in various aspects of life. Legalized gambling in the US (1) generates a great deal of revenue, (2) has a great deal of visibility, (3) is creating some interesting partnerships, and (4) is a risky business for both hosts and guests. The visibility and the competition in the industry are obvious. From the bombarding messages of the state lotteries to the development of mega resorts in Nevada, there is demand for the guest dollar [stress added]." Charles F. Urbanowicz, 2001, Gambling Into The 21st Century. Hosts And Guests Revisited: Tourism Issues of the 21st Century, edited by Valene Smith and Maryann Brent (NY: Cognizant Communication Corp.), pp. 69-79, page 78. 


"The essence of risk management lies in maximizing the areas where we have some control over the outcome while minimizing the areas where we have absolutely no control over the outcome and the linkage between effect and cause is hidden from us [stress added]." Peter L. Bernstein, 1996, Against The Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk, page 197.

Issues concerning Native Americans and "gaming / gambling" will be fascinating to follow for the immediate future: states are trying to generate additional revenue in these times from Native American casinos and there is a great deal of concern about that issue; and, as stated above:

"What do the Indian Nations of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and several other states have now that they did not have 15 years ago? The answer is political clout. ... [stress added]." Tim Giago, July 30, 2000, Jury Still Out On Indian Gaming's Impact. The San Francisco Chronicle, page 5.

And the political clout is going to get bigger, as exemplified in the following March 2003 headline: Indian Tribes Exempt From New Limits on Campaign Gifts:

"In their rivalry with other gambling interests, Indian tribes have now one advantage: they are exempt from the overall donor limits included in the nation's new campaign law that took effect this election cycle. The tribes, which for the 2002 election spread around $7 million in federal donations, do not have to abide by the overall individual donor limit of $95,000 in contributions to candidates, political action committees and parties. And unlike companies, the tribes can give donations directly from their treasuries. While unlimited donations known as soft money are not outlawed for everyone, including the tribes, the special treatment of Indian nations in the campaign finance rules has some competitors crying foul. ... Tribal leaders dismisss the criticism as jealousy over Indians' efforts to raise their political standing. ... Among top donors, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Choctaw, Miss., gave at least $615,000 to federal candidates and political organizations, and the Ho-Chunk Nation, based in Black River Falls, Wis., donated at least $512,000. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs, Calif., gave roughly $429,500. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal nation, whose Foxwoods casino in Connecticut is one of the world's biggest and most profitable, contributed at least $419,895 [stress added]." Anon, 2003, Indian Tribes Exempt From New Limits on Campaign Gifts, The New York Times, March 18, 2003, page A22.

It is probably a safe "bet" to write that "political clout" (not to mention "campaign contributions") will be a major factor in initiatives (currently in the process of being qualified) for the November 2004 elections in California:

"[One] initiative, sponsored by racetrack and card room interests, would require the [Native American] casinos to surrender 25 percent of their revenues, or about $1 billion annually, to the state. If any of them, even one, refused to go along, or the initiative were thwarted in court or any other way, five racetracks and 11 card rooms would be allowed to have a total of as many as 30,000 slot machines, breaking Indians' monopoly of Nevada-style gaming in the state. This is a hige threat to the tribes, because a number of them draw a good number of their customers from urban areas, where most of the racetracks and card rooms are located [stress added]." Robert Speer, 2004, High-stakes standoff. CN&R: Chico News and Review, February 19, 2004 (Vol. 27, Issue 31), pages 22-30, page 28 [and see:].

The future, as is the present, will be very interesting.

"Gambling is here to stay. The long-term future in the US is debatable because there are numerous problems concerning the expansion and growth of the gambling industry. Eadington (1992) [Recent national trends in the casino gaming industry and their implications for the economy of Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada] pointed out that 'observers, such as I. Nelson Rose, have argued that the proliferation [of gambling] carries with it the seeds of its own destruction' (p. 12) and this could be true. There is growing concern about 'addictive gambling,' labeled by the American Psychiatric Association as 'an impulse control disorder' said to affect about 11% of all gamblers. Rose (1991) [The rise and fall of the third wave: Gambling will be outlawed in forty years. In W. Eadington & J. Cronelius (Eds.), Gambling and public policy: International perspectives (pp. 65-86), Reno: University of Nevada] expects that after the boom of the 1990s and the first two decades of the 21st century, gambling will be outlawed again. Whether satiation or legislation ends the current unlimited growth is a question for the future [stress added]." Charles F. Urbanowicz, 2001, Gambling Into The 21st Century. Hosts And Guests Revisited: Tourism Issues of the 21st Century, edited by Valene Smith and Maryann Brent (NY: Cognizant Communication Corp.), pp. 69-79, page 71.
# # #

The following chart is a "very rough approximation" of casino space in various locations in the USA gathered over the years and from various sources: talking to people, publications, and the World Wide Web. I have been to every one of the facilities listed below (except for the Table Mountain Casino in Friant, California). The figures below, as far as I can ascertain, provide you with the approximate casino space at each location. Space in all of these facilities is also devoted to various food and beverage services, as well as management functions, but the chart can give you a "rough" idea of the relative size of various casinos. Also note, "expansion" has probably taken place at many of these facilities since the major portion of this research was conducted in the late 1990s (and growth, development, or "evolution" appears to be an ever-present mode of activity when it comes to this business).

Foxwoods, Connecticut
In excess of 320,000 square feet
 Mohegan Sun, Connecticut
Cache Creek (Capay Valley), California
263,000 (after expansion)
Table Mountain Casino (Friant), California
MGM Mirage, Las Vegas, Nevada
Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nevada
Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi
Excalibur, Las Vegas. Nevada
Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, New Jersey
The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada
Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Cache Creek (Capay Valley), California
113,000 (existing)
The Reno Hilton, Nevada
Harvey's, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Luxor, Las Vegas, Nevada
Harrahs, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Thunder Valley (Lincoln), California
The Nugget, Sparks, Nevada
Paskenta Band (Corning), California
Bally's Las Vegas, Nevada
Harrahs, Reno, Nevada
An American "Football" field
57,600 square feet
Rincon Band (San Diego area), California
One Acre of land
43,560 square feet
The Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria
41,600 (proposed)

Note: Although the source for the information is Smith, the visual display of the information is my own interpretation.

Note: Although the source for the information is Satre, the visual display of the information is my own interpretation.

An attempt to visualize some of the variables mentioned above.

An attempt to interpret some of the interaction between the variables mentioned above


April 8, 1997 -> May 24, 1997 Sabbatical Research:
Additional "images" pertaining to "Gaming/Gambling" may be found at Urbanowicz 2003 below.

SELECTED URBANOWICZ WEB REFERENCES DEALING WITH GAMING OR GAMBLING (best to review or read in reverse chronological order):

2003, [April 16, 2003 for ANTH 16]
, [November 4, 2002 for ANTH 162]
2001, Gambling Into The 21st Century. Hosts And Guests Revisited: Tourism Issues of the 21st Century, edited by Valene Smith and Maryann Brent (NY: Cognizant Communication Corp.), pp. 69-79. (NOTE: this is based on the 1998a item, Gambling (Gaming) In The United States of America From An Anthropological Perspective. Presented at the 14th ICAES [International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences] Meetings on the Anthropology of Tourism for the 1998 Congress held at Williamsburg, Virginia, July 26-August 2, 1998.)
2000, [September 20, 2000 for ANTH 138]
1999, The Gamble of Gaming: Where Does It Go From Here? (For the AAUW [American Association of University Women] Meeting in Chico, California, March 19.)
1998a, Gambling (Gaming) In The United States of America From An Anthropological Perspective. Presented at the 14th ICAES [International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences] Meetings on the Anthropology of Tourism for the 1998 Congress held at Williamsburg, Virginia, July 29-August 2, 1998.
1998b, Proposition 5 And Native American Gaming Issues. (For the CSU, Chico Anthropology Forum, October 8.)
1996a, Gambling or Gaming: Which Is It? (For the CSU, Chico Anthropology Forum, April 11.)
1996b, To Gamble, Or Not To Gamble? Is There A Question? (For the Chico Breakfast Lions Club Meeting, Chico, California, December 10.)
1996c, An Anthropologist looks At The Geography of Gaming. (For the Meeting of the Northern California Geographical Society, December 8.)

Note: additional links pertaining to "Gaming/Gambling" may also be found at Urbanowicz 2003.

SELECTED USEFUL REFERENCES (in addition to the ones cited in the text):

Jeff Benedict, 2000, Without Reservation: The Making of America's Most powerful Indian Tribe and Foxwoods, the World's Largest Casino (NY: HarperCollins).

Rod L. Evans and Mark Hance [Editors], 1998, Legalized Gambling: For and Against (Chicago: Open Court).

Robert Goodman, 1996, The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America' Gambling Explosion (NY: Free Press).

David Johnson, 1992, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Our Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business (NY: Doubleday).

Klaus Meyer-Arendt and Rudi Hartman [Editors], 1998, Casino Gambling in America: Origins, Trends, and Impacts. (NY: Cognizant Communication Corp.).

Eugene P. Moehring, 1989, Resort City in the Sunbelt: Las Vegas, 1930-1970 (Reno: University of Nevada Press).

Paul Pasquaretta, 2003, Gambling and Survival in Native North America (Tuson: University of Arizona Press).

Hall Rothman, 2002, Neon Metropolis : How Las Vegas started the twenty-first century (NY: Routledge).

Philip G. Satre, 1993, The Harrah's Survey of U.S. Casino Gaming Entertainment (Memphis, Tennessee).

Valene L. Smith [Editor], 1989, Hosts And Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism, Second Edition (University of Pennsylvania Press).

John L. Smith, 1995, Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn (NY: Barricade Books).

David Spanier, 1992, Welcome To The Pleasuredome: Inside Las Vegas (Reno: University of Nevada Press).

Note: additional printed references pertaining to "Gaming/Gambling" may also be found at Urbanowicz 2003.

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(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on February 24, 2004, for a presentation on this date (with numerous visuals) in Professor Sarah Richardson's RECR 198C (Leisure and Popular Culture) at CSU, Chico. To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

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