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:

26 March 2004 [1]

[This page printed from]

(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on March 26, 2004, for a presentation on this date (with numerous visuals) in Professor Sarah Richardson's RECR 50 (Hospitality Industry) at CSU, Chico.


"Gambling, or the gaming industry, has become a major force in the tourism industry. The gaming industry has grown from a narrow Nevada base with limited acceptance in the financial and public sector to a recognized growth industry. While gaming has always been a popular form of recreation, it has also been controversial [stress in original]. Charles R. Goeldner and J.R. Brent Ritchie, 2003, Tourism: Principles Practices Philosophies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), page 211.

This paper draws upon, complements, and adds to a presentation earlier this year for Professor Sarah Richardson's RECR 198C (Leisure and Popular Culture) entitled Gaming or Gambling: Recreation or...Really Big Business. At the end of this present page I have web references to other presentations and these contain references to other web sites and printed materials which should be of some value in attempting to understand the relationship between the gaming/gambling industry and how it is an important part of the hospitality industry.

"The Hospitality Industry is one of the world's largest employers, and ranks second in the United States. The industry has numerous segments including lodging, gaming, dining, cruise, airline and travel-related services. As a very people-oriented, or "high-touch" industry, recruiting issues and tactics can vary dramatically from those in other 'high-tech' industries. There are a number of distinct features that make recruiting in this industry both challenging and rewarding [stress added]." (From:} March 7, 2001 Article).

I am not a "recreation person" but have a Ph.D. in Anthropology based on fieldwork in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga and my research got me involved in analyzing the impact of tourism in the tiny Kingdom. Research interests have shifted, but in reading for today, one definition I came across concerning hospitality was the following:

"Hospitality resources refers to the general feeling of welcome that visitors receive while visiting a destination area. It is the way that tourist services are delivered by service providers, as well as the general feeling of warmth from the general resident population. It is a combination of a certain amount of knowledge and a positive attitude that results in specific hospitable behaviors. The way in which services are delivered is particularly important because tourism is consumed 'on the spot.' Sales and service occur at the same time. ... Hospitality resources can be improved by, in effect, training tourism personnel to be hospitable and encouraging positive feelings towards tourism and tourists on the part of the general public [stress added]." Robert Christie Mill and Alastair M. Morrison, 1985, The Tourism System: An Introductory Text (Prentice-Hall), page 217.
FIGURE #1: 4 C Paradigm.

Another way to possibly consider the words above is with what I have called my "4-C Paradigm" and if it all isn't coordinated in some manner by the individuals in charge of the various operations (marketing, food and beverage, human resources, etc.), there is a fifth "C" which is namely CHAOS! The client, or consumer, wishes to "gamble" at a certain location. The "content" refers to the specific "gambling items" (slot machines or table games or other items) available for the consumer or client. The "conduit" refers to the ambience or how the customer or client or patron is treated while taking part in the casino activities. As Charles R. Goeldner and J.R. Brent Ritchie stated it:

"It is widely acknowledged that the success of tourism ultimately depends on the competence and ability of all of the operating sectors discussed above (i.e., the front line of tourism ["transportation, accommodation, food service, attractions, events, adventure and outdoor recreation, entertainment, travel trade, and tourism services"] to deliver a quality experience to each tourist--one person at a time" [stress added]." Charles R. Goeldner and J.R. Brent Ritchie, 2003, Tourism: Principles Practices Philosophies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), page 19.

If one "reads" the stressed words above and substitutes, at various points in time, gamblers or gambling, as well as casino activities, one gets the following paraphrased statement:

The hospitality industry associated with a casino refers to the general feeling of welcome that gamblers receive while visiting a casino. It is the way that gambling games are delivered by casino personnel, as well as the general feeling of warmth from the surrounding community that the particular casino is located in. It is a combination of a certain amount of knowledge and a positive attitude that results in specific hospitable behaviors. The way in which gambling activities are delivered is particularly important because gambler's funds are consumed 'on the spot.' Sales and service occur at the same time. ... Hospitality resources within a casino can be improved by, in effect, training casino personnel to be hospitable and encouraging positive feelings towards gamblers on the part of the general public.



"entertainment....n. 1. the act of entertaining. 2. a diversion or amusement. 3. something affording diversion or amusement, esp. a performance. 4. hospitable provision for guests." Jess Stein, 1975, The Random House College Dictionary: Revised Edition [NY: Random House], page 441.

Although it has been written that the words "gaming" and "gambling" are "interchangeable" (Rocco M. Angelo and Andrew N. Vladimir, 2001, Hospitality Today: An Introduction, Fourth Edition [Michigan: Educational Institute], page 319), I do not agree with this statement; nor do I believe "gaming" to be synonymous with the term "entertainment" (which is often used by the casino industry) to describe the action which takes place within a casino. While gaming may have a dictionary definition defining it as "gambling. --adv. 2. of or pertaining to gambling" looking at "gambling" itself provides some insight into this aspect of the hospitality industry:

"gamble...v.i. 1. to play at any game or chance for stakes. 2. to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance; bet; wager.--v.t. 3. to lose or squander by betting (usually followed by away): He gambled all his hard-earned money away in one night. 4. to bet or stake (something of value): I'll gamble my life on his honesty. --n. 5. any matter or thing involving risk or hazardous uncertainty. 6. a venture in a game of chance for stakes, esp. for high stakes [stress added]." Jess Stein, 1975, The Random House College Dictionary: Revised Edition [NY: Random House], page 542.

Incidentally, not everyone in this branch of the hospitality industry makes a profit, for there are risks at all levels: from consumers to operators! Consider, if you will, the financial aspects of Donald Trump in this area of the hospitality industry:

"Shares of Trump Hotels & Casino have been sliding for years and are now down 83% from the day they went public in 1995--a period in which the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 stock index is up 108%. It's not a casino-specific stock-performance problem, either. Shares of competitor MGM Mirage are up 216% in that same period [stress added]." Matt Krantz, 2004, Trump's gamble not paying off at casino: Division of empire struggles with debt. USA Today, March 12, 2004, page A1 + A2, page A2.  

One could possibly argue that the United States of America is a country that has "gambling" everywhere (elaborated upon briefly in the next section), for one should consider the following from The Wall Street Journal of March 24, 2004: "Yesterday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., in its quarterly earning report, demonstrated how taking bigger bets with its own capital, both for itself and clients, played a big role in increasing profits [stress added]." (Susanne Craig & Gregory Zuckerman, 2004, Risky Buisiness: Brokerage Firms Place More Bets. The Wall Street Journal , March 24, 2004, pages C1 + C4, page C1.) On that same date one could also read the following: "Global Investors Ponder Deflation-Inflation And How to Wager on It [stress added]." (Michael R. Sesit, 2004, The Wall Street Journal , March 24, 2004, page C16.) Gambling, or risk-taking, appears to be everywhere.



"[March 4, 2004] LAS VEGAS - (Press Release) -- Fortune Magazine has named MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGG) one of 'America's Most Admired Companies' in its annual survey of companies with large U.S. operations. MGM Mirage outscored all competitors in the 'Most Admired 'Hotels/Casinos/Resorts category. Overall, MGM Mirage ranked second in the Hotels/Casinos/Resorts category after Marriott International, a non-casino hotel resort company. MGM Mirage has been named to Fortune's 'America's Most Admired Companies'industry list each year since the merger of MGM Grand, Inc. and Mirage Resorts, Inc. created MGM Mirage in 2001. In both 2002 and 2003, MGM Mirage also outscored all competitors and ranked second in the category after Marriott International [stress added]." (From:

Please remember that "MGM Mirage" includes the following six Las Vegas properties that are hotel-casino locations: Bellagio, Boardwalk, Mirage, MGM Grand, New York New York, and TI (Treasure Island). When one discusses, or reads about another casino/hospitality company, such as Harrahs, please consider the following:

"Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., a Delaware corporation, was incorporated on November 2, 1989, and prior to such date operated under predecessor companies. As of December 31, 2003, we operate 25 casinos in 12 states under the Harrah's, Rio, Showboat and Harveys brand names. Our casinos include land-based casinos and casino hotels, dockside casinos, a greyhound racetrack, a thoroughbred racetrack and managed casinos on Indian lands [stress added]." (From:; Form10-K, dated 5 March 2004).

This aspect of the "hospitality industry" is indeed a large diversified business and as Angelo and Vladimir point out, "following Columbus' discovery of the New World" various forms of gambling swiftly followed! (Rocco M. Angelo and Andrew N. Vladimir, 2001, Hospitality Today: An Introduction, Fourth Edition [Michigan: Educational Institute], page 320.) The United States has a lengthy history or interest in gambling and over the many years this industry has generated a tremendous amount of profit for those involved in it, currently 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. (For a great deal more on "background" please consult Gaming or Gambling: Recreation or...Really Big Business referenced above). In addition to the above events, consider if you will the concept of "24/7" and how various casino activities appear to have been forerunners of the term. (Ever notice prominent clocks in a casino?) An important contribution to casino growth in the past years has been the development of the Automated Teller Machine, or ATM!

"In the past three decades, the role of technology in creating and serving twenty-four hour needs has been enormous. By way of example, automated teller machines (ATMs) have done away with 'banker's hours.' Stand-alone banking machines that could both accept deposits and dispense cash were first introduced in Rockville Centre, New York, in 1969, and networks of such machines appeared beginning in the mid-1970s [stress added]." Carlene E. Stephens, 2002, On Time: How America Has Learned to Live by the Clock (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution), pages 194-195.

It should be clear that casino ATMs do more "dispensing" than receiving deposits!

Focusing in on the hospitality industry and those destinations that are "Casino Hotels" one quickly discovers that the revenues associated with the gambling industry, when associated with a hotel, can be tremendous. By now you probably have been exposed to terms such as "revenue per available room, or average daily room rate for guest, as well as percentage of occupancy, or income before fixed charges, and resort hotel as well as convention hotel" (see Charles R. Goeldner and J.R. Brent Ritchie, 2003, Tourism: Principles Practices Philosophies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), page 158), please consider the following when the Hilton Corporation moved into the gaming industry:

"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 followed 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), page 22.  

I do not know the exact numbers in the Hilton chain today (1,895 in the year 2000?), but any single hotel that generates "43 percent of the gross revenues" out of 163 properties has got to be viewed as a moneymaker! It should also be noted that Hilton is still involved in this aspect of the industry:

"Representatives from The Pueblo of Pojoaque and Hilton Hotels Corporation this afternoon [March 16, 2004] participated in a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of construction on a $250 million destination resort that will feature a 387-room Hilton (NYSE:HLT) full-service resort, a 79-suite Homewood Suites by Hilton(R), an upscale extended stay hotel, a spa, convention facilities, entertainment venues and a new casino [ added]." [From:} March 15, 2004]

The current casino, Cities of Gold, is a 40,000 square foot facility and one can only guess as to the size of the new casino (but it will undoubtedly be a bigger one!).

Gambling is big business and the "Gross gambling revenue" (an industry term) for 1997 was approximately $50,893,300,000 for an industry-wide "win" of slightly more than $139,433,698 a day. Because of shifting research interests I am not aware of the "Gross gambling revenue" in 2003 or 2004, but I would bet that it is higher! Nevertheless, utilizing 1997 dollars, in fifty-minute presentation, roughly speaking, $4,841,447 was "won" by the gambling industry in this country (and "lost" by consumers), or some $96,828/minute! The entire operating budget of this institution, California State University, Chico, for the 2003-2004 fiscal year is approximately $100,000,000: comparing this to the "gaming" industry "win" of almost $97,000 per minute (in 1997), this means that in 1,030 minutes (or some 17 hours) this "entertainment" industry would have won enough to pay for the entire year-long operation of CSU, Chico!

"Gross gambling revenue (GGR): Handle less payouts or prizes or winnings returned to players. From the operator's point of view, gross revenue is money extracted from players collectively and transferred to the operator(s) of a commercial game; GGR is thus the source of gambling industry revenues and government gambling tax receipts. From the consumer's point of view, gross gambling revenue is the consumer price of playing a commercial game [stress added]." Eugene M. Christiansen, 1998, A New Entitlement. International Gaming & Wagering Business, August 1998, pages 3-35, page 5.

With all of these dollars, there are certainly numerous individuals (and organizations) that want to be involved in this lucrative (and controversial) industry! Indeed, a headline entitled "Gambling Firms See Big Bucks in Cash-Strapped U.S. States" appeared in The Wall Street Journal of March 23, 2004 and it began as follows:

"Gambling companies are seeing the prospects of bigger paydays, as cash-strapped states increasingly consider adding or expanding gambling to bolster tax revenue. According to a report of the National Conference of State Legislatures released in late February [2004], at least 19 states are considering new or expanded gambling in efforts to raise revenue and reduce budget deficits. Such actions could lead to several deals beneficial to gambling companies, including those that make gambling equipment and casino companies. many of which will gain lucrative building rights and management contracts. Across the country, gambling companies are aggressively bidding for their piece of business, said Marc Falcone, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities [stress added]." Steven Vames, 2004, Gambling Firms See big Bucks in Cash-Strapped U.S. States. The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2004, page A10.  



"Owners and operators in the gaming sector of the hospitality industry must interact with many organizations in both public and private sectors - from investment banks, analysts and commercial lending institutions, to governing bodies and licensing agencies that regulate and monitor these operations. Those responsible for significant land-based casino/ entertainment/resort operations require a variety of strategy and financial advisory services [stress added]." (From:} PriceWaterhouseCoopers]

When one can legally partake of some form of gambling in 48 of the 50 United States (Hawai'i and Utah being the exceptions), one has "choices" to make and the industry has to develop their "strategy" to make sure that you continually make the decision to choose them! Competition is keen: casino versus casino; Native American casino versus non-native American casino; Native American casino versus Native American casino; Reno versus Las Vegas; Las Vegas versus all other cities; downtown Las Vegas versus "the Strip" in Las Vegas; California Native American casinos versus Nevada casinos; southern California Native American casinos versus Las Vegas casinos; California Native American casinos versus California Card rooms and racetracks! The list could definitely be expanded, but you should get the idea! This competitive environment is taking place across the United States:

"Legislators in Maryland and Pennsylvania are racing to legalize gambling, convinced that thousands of their residents are crossing borders every day to gamble away millions in New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware and New York. Though such proposals have risen and died in recent years, they seem to have gained momentum because both states face an array of fiscal problems. But there is an added incentive this year: a fear in each capital that the her state will legalize gambling first [stress added]." Jame Dao, 2004, Two States Trying to Keep Gambling Money at Home. The New York Times, March 22, 2004, page A16.

Looking at the "local" situation, consider the following headline from March 12, 2004: "Nevada casino win up a 'paltry' 1.8% and the following:

"A January [2004] win of $882.1 million for Nevada casinos pushed their fiscal year total to 5.71 billion - but Gov. Kenny Guinn said Thursday [March 11, 2004] that the total amounts to a 'paltry' 1.8 percent gain from a year ago. ...The [Gaming Control] board's Frank Streshley said the $882.1 win in January was up 4.4 percent compared with the same month in 2003. But he said there were wide variances around the state, with many areas--including Reno-Sparks and downtown Las Vegas--reporting slumps. Streshley said the overall 4.4 percent growth in the January win stemmed mainly from a strong gain for mega-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. ... But the Reno-Sparks area suffered because of bad weather and road closures, along with the continuing impact of the new tribal casino [Thunder Valley] near Auburn, Calif. and closures of three small casinos in Reno and Sparks, he added [stress added]." Brendan Riley, 2004, Nevada casino win up a 'paltry' 1.8%. The San Francisco Chronicle, March 12, 2004, page B10.

When the voters of California approved "Proposition 5" in 1998, some predicted a "doom-and-gloom" scenario for both California and Nevada:

"'If the initiative passes, it would be devastating for Nevada,' said Whittier Law School Professor I. Nelson Rose. 'Since there would be no restrictions on gaming, and there are over 100 pieces of federally recognized Indian land in the state, and a tribe with enough land and enough customers could put up dozens of casinos [stress added].'"Cited by Matt Connor, 1998, Nevada's Bad California Dream. International Gaming & Wagering Business, July 1998, page 1, pages 26-31, page 26.

Indeed, a perceptive 1998 article began with the following:

"Imagine a California with 40 or more Foxwood-sized gaming facilities, many lining the thoroughfares leading from Southern California to the Nevada border, each aggressively wooing the millions of customers from the population centers of Anaheim and San Diego to the gambling meccas of Las Vegas, Reno, Stateline, and Laughlin. That's the doomsday prediction of some gaming observers watching the action in California.... [stress added]." Matt Connor, 1998, Nevada's Bad California Dream. International Gaming & Wagering Business, July 1998, page 1, pages 26-31, page 1 and 26).

All one need to do is look at the chart at the end of this paper and see how Foxwoods (currently in excess of 320,000 square feet of casino space) compares to some current Native American casinos in California! (And remember, or see, that when the MGM Grand opened in Reno, Nevada, in 1978, it was the largest casino in the world with 100,000 square feet of casino space!) 

"The boom in tribal gambling began in the mid-1970s, when tribes in Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and California operated relatively modest, low-stakes bingo halls on their reservations. Encouraged by the Reagan administration, which hoped gambling would reduced tribal dependence on Washington, these tribes had expanded their gambling enterprises significantly by the end of the decade" (Robert Goodman, 1995, The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America's Gambling Explosion, page 111).

The Foxwoods Resort Casino opened in 1992 and it was a success. In 1996, the Mohegan Sun Casino opened a few miles away in Uncasville, Connecticut, and it too was (and is!) financially successful. To place the dollar amounts from Connecticut into some perspective, please consider the following:

"By our estimation, the two [Connecticut] casinos generated nearly $1.5 billion dollars in revenue for 1997. By way of comparison, that is roughly 38% of what the twelve Atlantic City [New Jersey] posted in casino revenues in 1997" [stress added]." Sebastian Sinclair, 1998, Go-Go Times Roll On For Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun. Indian Gaming Business: A Quarterly Supplement to international Gaming & Wagering Business, May, pages 8-9, page 8.

That was 1997; please consider some very recent statements concerning the largest casino in the world:

"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.

"Foxwoods reported a net slot win of $54.7 million on a handle of $671.2 million for the month of December [2003]. The report, made to the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue, noted that $13.7 million was sent to Hartford from the month's proceeds. ... With December's contribution, the Tribal Nation has given $100 million to Connecticut since the state's current fiscal year began on July 1 [stress added]." Anon., February 2004, The Pequot Times, page 10.

"Foxwoods reported a $56.9 million slot win for the month of January 2004 on a handle of $723.6 million, which was up nearly 13 million over the comparable period in 2003. ... The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation also reported a $14.2 million contribution to the State of Connecticut fort January. That raises the amount given the state to $114 million since July 1 and $1.8 billion since the casino first began offering slot machines to its customers [stress added]." Anon., March 2004, The Pequot Times, page 11.

Looking at the numbers above, note that 64.6/801.6 = 8.05 percent, 54.7/671.2 = 8.14 percent, and 56.9/723.6 = 7.86 percent. A great deal of money goes through those slot machines and most of it (91.86 to 92.14 percent) is returned back to the gambler (or player).

Incidentally, the local Chico-News & Review had a very interesting article by Robert Speer on February 19, 2004 ( wherein it was written that the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut give the state "25 percent of their revenue to the state." Unfortunately, the author made a mistake: Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun give only 25 percent of their slot win to the state and everything else belongs to the Native Americans. There is a obviously a great deal of money involved in this aspect of the hospitality industry and to repeat the title of this presentation: Hospitality and Gambling = Big Business!"



"There's erosion in Sonoma County, traffic snarls in San Bernadino County and blocked views in Santa Barbara County--not to mention a hole in the state budget the size of the Grand Canyon. And the common denominator for all these maladies, according to participants in a rally on the north steps of the Capitol Tuesday [March 9, 2004]: Indian casinos [stress added]." Steve Wiegand, 2004, Capitol rally backs review of Indian gambling pacts. The Sacramento Bee, March 10, 2004, page A7.

Clearly, while Native Americans can call their involvement in the gambling industry as the "New Buffalo" there are those in other aspects of the gambling industry (and those not involved in the industry) who are not happy with the situation in the state of California; consider, if you will, an article "above the fold" in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 26, 2004:

"California is heading for a ferocious political showdown between the state's influential and well-heeled gambling interests: the racetracks and card clubs that for decades had an exclusive hold on the business of accepting legal bets, and the Indian tribes that were granted sole right to offer Las Vegas-style casino games nearly four years ago [stress added]." Mark Simon, 2004, Stakes huge in gambling initiative. San Francisco Chronicle of January 26, 2004: Page A1 + A8, page A1.

"The initiative, dubbed the "Gaming Revenue Act of 2004," would force Indian tribes with casinos to renegotiate compacts signed with the state and contribute 25 percent of gambling revenue, a number used by tribes in Connecticut. Under the initiative, if California tribes did not agree to pay the 25 percent, they would lose a statewide monopoly on casino gaming because the state would allow 11 card clubs and five horse racing tracks throughout Southern California and the Bay area to operate slot machines and other video gaming. The card rooms and race tracks guarantee that 33 percent of revenue, an estimated $1 billion, would go to local governments for law enforcement and schools [stress added]." [From: } March 19, 2004]

Petition circulation for this initiative is going on right now as well as a petition being circulated by California Native Americans for their version of a gambling initiative in California for the November 2004 ballot:

"The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians can begin collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would subject willing tribes to revenue-sharing in exchange for expanded gaming. The tribe is proposing that tribal gaming revenues be taxed by the state at a rate of 8.84 percent, the same tax applied to corporations. Tribes would then be able to offer more slot machines under compacts that don't expire. The tribe has to collect 598,105 qualified signatures, according to The Palm Springs Desert Sun. Rival groups are collecting signatures for a petition to force tribes to accept a 25 percent revenue-sharing rate or lose their slot machine monopoly. Another petition seeks to offset tribal gaming impacts on local governments [stress added]." [From:} March 12, 2004]

This will really be an interesting election year! Incidentally, the Agua Caliente initiative also has the following, as reported by the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, California:

"The initiative would eliminate the current limit of 2,000 slot machines per tribe in return for participating tribes paying the equivalent of the state corporate tax rate into the state General Fund. Tribes currently don't pay anything to the state, though they do contribute to two funds for small and non-gambling tribes and to help offset the local impact of casinos on public safety and the environment, among other purposes. The Agua Caliente measure also would give participating tribes a 99-year agreement to operate their casinos and retain tribes' exclusive franchise for Nevada-style gambling. Most gambling tribes now have about 17 years remaining on 20-year agreements. The initiative is the second gambling measure to enter circulation for signatures. The other one likely would open the door to non-Indian casino gambling, allowing 16 racetracks and card clubs to operate up to 30,000 slot machines. Operators would have to contribute part of their winnings to law enforcement and social services [stress added]." [From: Jake Henshaw, 2004, State lets tribe seek gambling initiative.} March 12, 2004]

Native Americans have described their casino activities as the "return of the buffalo" and money is flowing as a result of these casinos (and related activities) and Native American groups are changing. Native American gambling 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, which began in 1986 and was 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" and there are currently 54 Native American casinos. 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.

By the year 2000, twelve years after IGRA, 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.  

As a March 2004 article stated: "Critics charge that the [Native American] tribes are using their increasing political clout to circumvent state and local laws, leaving local communities with little say over what happens on or near neighboring reservations [stress added]." Anon., 2004, Tribes using influence in Congress to bypass opposition. The Chico Enterprise-Record, March 14, 2004, page 4B. Looking to relatively local issues, the article began as follows:

"When a Butte County tribe wanted help in opening a casino on a cow pasture 40 miles away, it turned to a retiring U.S. senator from Colorado. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell helped introduce three obscure sentences into a Native American 'technical corrections' bill that helps the casino site in Yuba County become tribal land--without mentioning the tribe's name, its location or even a word about gambling."

Well aware of the general anger felt by local communities, some Native American groups are literally "bending over backwards" to satisfy the local constituents:

"A landless American Indian tribe looking to build a casino-resort just west of Rohnert Park put its plans up for intense scrutiny this week, voluntarily submitting to a national review of the projects environmental impacts. ... The tribe's proposal, and the marketing plan by their Las Vegas financial partner, Station Casinos Inc., will be reviewed for environmental impacts by the National Indian Gaming Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs [stress added]. Pamela J. Podger, 2004, Tribe puts is casino plans up for review. The San Francisco Chronicle, March 13, 2004, page B1 and B2, page B1.

Real estate people often state that the three most important things about a house for sale is location, location, location, so it goes with casinos (both Native American and non-Native American): "...a growing number of tribes in California and elsewhere ... are looking beyond reservation boundaries for larger crows and great profits." Anon., 2004, Indian tribes increasingly looking beyond the borders of their reservations for casinos. The Chico Enterprise-Record, March 14, 2004, page 11C.

In addition to California versus Cabazon in 1987 having an obvious impact on us today, a March 2004 United States Supreme Court ruling in the United States versus Santee Sioux Tribe and United States versus Seneca-Cayuga Tribe will have national repercussions:

"Supreme Court turns down gaming machine dispute - Monday, March 1, 2004 - Over the objections of the Bush administration and several states, the U.S. Supreme today refused to hear a dispute affecting the use of electronic casino machines in the $14 billion Indian gaming industry. Without comment, the justices turned down appeals of two decisions that were favorable to tribal interests. The Department of Justice sought review of the cases, claiming that regulation of Indian gaming was at risk. The move allows the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska to continue offering an electronic machine similar to pull-tabs. The government claimed the machines were illegal without a tribal-state compact, which Nebraska refuses to negotiate. Another machine was at issue in a case involving two Oklahoma tribes and a Wyoming tribe. But that machine is no longer in use and is no longer manufactured. Still, the rejection of both cases ensures that the electronic aids to Class II games such as bingo and pull-tabs are indeed Class II games. Government lawyers argued that machines resembling slot machines should be classified as Class III. (From:

What some of this means is explained by Jerry Berrios in The Miami Herald of March 2, 2004:

"The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Monday a Bush administration effort to limit the types of gambling offered by American Indian tribes unauthorized to operate slot machines and other casino-style games. Led by Multimedia Games of Austin, Texas, shares of companies that make games and slot machines for gambling registered double-digit gains. The high court eliminated ''significant legal uncertainty'' surrounding the company's ability to sell its products to the tribes, Multimedia Games said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The government sought to stop tribes from using electronic devices resembling video slot machines to dispense paper pull-tab tickets. The court left intact rulings favoring the tribes. U.S. law lets tribes operate such casino gambling as slot machines and roulette only through tribal-state agreements approved by the Interior Department. Tribes without such agreements can offer games like bingo and pull-tabs, in which players buy tickets pulled from preprinted rolls. A video machine that can be used to sell the tickets ''resembles, in both appearance and play, a slot machine or other casino-gambling device,'' government lawyers said in court papers filed in Washington. Allowing such machines lets tribes operate ''casino gaming without a tribal-state compact,'' they said. Jim Shore, the Seminole Tribe of Florida's general counsel, said that, ''in the long run,'' the decision was ``good news for us and tribes across the country.'' The Seminole generate $300 million a year from its gambling empire, which includes gaming facilities in Coconut Creek, Hollywood and Tampa as well as at Immokalee, near Naples, and on the Brighton Reservation, north of Lake Okeechobee. Each of the 3,000 or so tribal members receives a monthly $3,500 dividend [stress added]."

It suffices to say that Government lawyers were not happy with the Supreme Court decision:

"Lawyers at the Department of Justice took a different view in the matter. They said two decisions, one from the 10th Circuit and the other from the 8th Circuit, threatened regulation of the $14 billion and growing Indian gaming industry. Several states, including California, Texas, Nevada, South Dakota and Nebraska, also raised warning bells in a brief to the Supreme Court [stress added]." (From:

As pointed out above, strategy and partnerships are important in the Native American casino industry and this decision had some immediate results for some of the partners:

"Supreme Court move benefits gaming companies -Tuesday, March 2, 2004 -Shares of several gaming manufacturers rose on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not hear a case challenging the use of electronic machines at tribal casinos. Multimedia Games Inc. (MGAM), the leading supplier of machines to tribes in Oklahoma, emerged as one of the clear winners. At one point, shares of the Texas company were up 11.6 percent and closed at $22.39, up 6.62 percent from the day prior. Other companies that saw gains included Alliance Gaming Corp. (AGI), which supplies machines to a Florida tribe that benefits from the court's action, and International Game Technology (IGT), another leading tribal supplier. AGI closed at $27.00, up 11.29 percent from the day prior, and IGT closed at $41,58, up 5.99 percent. Even companies that manage tribal casinos saw increases in their stock price. Harrah's Entertainment Inc. (HET) rose 2.9 percent to $53.45 a share while Station Casinos Inc. (STN) grew by 3.22 percent to close at $38.81 [stress added]." (From:

Casino profits are encouraging Native Americans to diversity beyond casino operations into various enterprises (and please see Gaming or Gambling: Recreation or...Really Big Business mentioned earlier in this paper). Across the nation, consider the following concerning the Mashantucket Pequot of Connecticut:

"Foxwoods reported a net slot win of $54.7 million on a handle of $671.2 million for the month of December [2003]. The report, made to the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue, noted that $13.7 million was sent to Hartford from the month's proceeds. ... With December's contribution, the Tribal Nation has given $100 million to Connecticut since the state's current fiscal year began on July 1 [stress added]." Anon., February 2004, $54.7 million slot win for December. The Pequot Times (Mashantucket, CT), page 10.

In January 2004, Foxwoods reported the following:

"Foxwoods has reported the most successful November 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, located on the reservation of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal nation in southeastern Connecticut, began offering slots in January 1993. The funds sent to the state represent a 25 percent share of the casino's net wins for slots.... [stress added]." Anon., January 2004, Most successful November ever! $64.6 million slot win. The Pequot Times (Mashantucket, CT), page 11.

Back here in California, in January 2004 it was reported that the recently opened Thunder Valley Casino in Placer County was very profitable:

"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; also note that Stations Casino Inc., mentioned above in connection with the recent Seminole decision, handles the Thunder Valley Casino is also partnering with the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria for their planned casino in Butte County, approximately fifteen miles from campus.

With money flowing in, and the need to create a "comfortable community environment" in which to operate, early this month it was reported that the Native American group that own Thunder Valley will "donate $1 million a year to Placer charities."

"The gesture comes from the United Auburn Indian Community, which is estimated to have annual revenues of $270 million to $300 million. The casino's success has allowed the tribe to create a philanthropic branch within its government, said Doug Elments, a United Auburn Indian Community spokesman.... The grants will help support needs in education, community health, arts and humanities, the environment, community development and social services, he said. ... 'After struggling for generations, the tribe recognizes the importance of helping those who help others....'" Art Campos, 2004, Tribe to donate $1 million a year to Place charities. The Sacramento Bee, March 11, 2004, page B5.

Press reports and plans to distribute funds such as these are, however, also read by individuals who see unbridled Native American expansion in the State of California:

"The Chumash Indians [Santa Barbara, CA] are planning to build a $250 million development with a former actor that includes about 500 homes, a hotel resort, two golf courses and an equestrian center. In a joint venture with Fess Parker, who once played Davy Crockett, the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians will build the project on about 745 acres that it purchased from Parker for $12 million. The tribe plans to petition the federal government to place the land into federal trust and to grant sovereign status, giving the tribe freedom to develop its own form of government and prohibiting the state and county from imposing taxes. Chumash Chairman Vincent Armenta said construction could begin within four years [stress added]." Anon., 2004, Santa Barbara: Indian Tribe planning $250 million project. The San Francisco Chronicle, March 17, 2004, page B3.

Plans, with statements such as these ("prohibiting the state and county from imposing taxes") contributes to the inflammatory situation in this state (and other states). Native American casino operations are indeed a big business and an important part of the hospitality industry in this state. Because of the state budget crisis and the amount of monies involved (especially when one sees what the State of Connecticut receives as its 'share" of Native American casino revenue in that state (namely 25 percent of all slot revenues from both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Sun casinos), one can see why the State of California is attempting to re-negotiate the share that should come to this state. It will be interesting to see what happens when various groups attempt to enter into legal discussions concerning Native American casino operations in California since you have so many disparate interests involved: the Native American nations, the County governments, local community representatives, and the State of California!



"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself." Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972: 483.

As an anthropologist, I am intrigued by this statement and also consider the question: what is the 'carrying capacity" of any environment? Or when does "cannibalization" begin to take place? How many casinos (Native American or otherwise) can a region or nation support? An interesting 2004 publication to consider is Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits by Earl L. Grinols:

"For most of the twentieth century, casino gambling was criminalized in all states except Nevada. this situation was dramatically reversed, primarily in the last decade of the [20th] century. What lessons does this teach? Have we forgotten what our forebears once knew or is the nature of modern gambling different? Here, we identify a puzzle: Why does one generation judge gambling harshly and another embrace it? Those making decisions about gambling must understand its special features and decide whether of not it is appropriate for government to intervene. In any event, the present generation is embarked on a nearly perfect social experiment in most locations of the nation: comparing the complete absence of casinos on one extreme to their prominent presence on the other [stress added]." Earl L. Grinols, 2004, Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits (Cambridge University Press), page 13.

While I am not as excited as the above author about the "perfect social experiment" which is looming before us. I heartily concur that the future (as is the present) will be very interesting. As written earlier:

"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. Cornelius (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.
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Below you will find a chart that I continue to update for presentations such as these: when you glance at it, please keep in mind it is only an "approximation" for as Theobald pointed out in 1994, Global Tourism: The Next Decade, "there is incomparability of tourism statistics."

"The principal difficulty in measuring the extent of tourism demand is the basic incomparability of tourism statistics. Such incomparability exists not only when attempting to compare data from various nations but also creates problems when regions, provinces, states or cities within a country attempt to compare with one another data on tourism demand." William Theobald [Editor], 1994, Global Tourism: The Next Decade (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann), page 10.

This certainly holds true for casino comparisons as well! The following chart is a "very rough approximation" of casino space in various locations in the USA gathered from talking to people, publications, and the World Wide Web over several years. I have been to every one of the facilities listed below in California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, and North Carolina (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 and I honestly write that I am not 100% certain about all of the figures; 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.

Foxwoods, Connecticut [Native American; hereafter NA]
In excess of 320,000 square feet
 Mohegan Sun, Connecticut [NA]
Cache Creek (Capay Valley), California [NA]
263,000 (after expansion)
Table Mountain Casino (Friant), California [NA]
MGM Grand Hotel/Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nevada
Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi
Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, New Jersey
The Reno Hilton, Nevada
117,400 [Note: when it opened in 1978 it had 100,000 square feet of casino space and was the largest casino in the world!]
Cache Creek (Capay Valley), California [NA]
113,000 (existing)
Excalibur, Las Vegas. Nevada
The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada
Luxor, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Mirage, Las Vegas, Nevada
Tulalip Casino, Marysville, Washington [NA]
Harvey's, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Silver Legacy, Reno, Nevada
New York New York, Las Vegas, Nevada
John Ascuagua's Nugget, Sparks, Nevada
Eldorado Hotel & Casino, Reno, Nevada
Thunder Valley (Lincoln), California [NA]
Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, Nevada
Treasure Island, Las Vegas
Paskenta Band (Corning), California [NA]
Bally's Las Vegas, Nevada
Circus Circus, Reno, Nevada
Harrahs Cherokee Casino & Hotel, Cherokee, North Carolina [NA]
Harrahs, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Hollywood Casino, Tunica, Mississippi
Harrahs, Reno, Nevada
Harrahs, Tunica, Mississippi
Rincon Band (San Diego area), California [NA]
43,560 square feet
The Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria [NA]
41,600 (proposed)
Caesars Tahoe, Lake Tahoe, Nevada

URBANOWICZ REFERENCES (Please note: The four web pages below contain numerous reference to other web sites and printed materials which should be of some value in attempting to understand this growing and volatile industry):

2004, [Gaming or Gambling: Recreation or...Really Big Business! February 24, 2004 for RECR 198C]

2003, [Power and Scarcity: Tourism in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga (1970-1971) and Tourism/Gambling/Gaming interests (1970->2003). April 16, 2003 for ANTH 16]

1998a, [Proposition 5 And Native American Gaming issues. For the Anthropology Forum at California State University, Chico, on October 8, 1998.]

1998b, [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, VA, July 29-August 2, 1998.]

ADDITIONAL WEB REFERENCES [Stand Up For California} a grassroots, citizen-organized, non-profit coalition dedicated to opposing the expansion of gambling in California] [Gaming Industry News} Hospitality Job Resource] [Street Science News: Gaming Industry News] [Gaming Industry News} Travel Industry Wire] [Hospitality News] [Hospitality Industry] [American Gaming Association] [National Indian Gaming Association} NIGA] [Indianz.Com} Your internet Resource] [Indian Country Today] [Tunica, Mississippi, Casinos] [Casino City} Your Guide to Gaming Excitement] [State of Nevada Gaming Control Data} 1/23/04] 

(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on March 26, 2004, for a presentation on this date (with numerous visuals) in Professor Sarah Richardson's RECR 50 (Hospitality Industry) at CSU, Chico. To return to the beginning of this page, please click here.

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 [~8,906 words]} 26 March 2004

To go to the home page of Urbanowicz, please click here;

to the Department of Anthropology;

to the Department of Recreation and Parks Management;

to California State University, Chico.

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Copyright © 2004; all rights reserved by Charles F. Urbanowicz

26 March 2004 by cfu

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