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Washington tribes now seventh biggest state employer


Washington State tribes contributed more than $12bn to the state’s economy in two years, according to a new report.

The Washington Indian Gaming Association’s (WIGA) study found that its tribes generated $6.6bn in gross state product in 2019 and $5.6bn during pandemic-affected 2020.

The report, compiled by economist Jonathan B. Taylor of the tribal economy-focused Taylor Policy Group, claims that Washington State’s 29 tribal governments generate $1.5bn in direct wages and benefits, and tribal economic activity accounts for $1.2bn in state and local taxes.

Tribes directly employ 37,371 people across the state, and 54,000 total jobs can be traced back to tribes – which makes Washington tribes the state’s seventh largest employer. Of those jobs, 72% are held by non-tribal members.

“Tribes are running gaming and other businesses not to generate private profits, but to fund critically needed government services for some of the poorest and most historically marginalised communities in Washington State,” said Rebecca George, executive director of WIGA.

“Our commitment to responsible gaming activities along with a diverse array of economic development efforts led by tribes is both restoring tribal self-reliance and boosting our overall state economy.”

A 2004 analysis of tribal economic contributions in Washington found that the tribal economic impact at the time was $2bn, and tribes directly employed about 13,000 people.

“Growing tribal economies fund schools, housing programs, health clinics, environmental rehabilitation, infrastructure development, firefighting, law enforcement, and other public services for Indians and non-Indians alike,” reads the study.

“Washington has substantially benefited from the economic and social resurgence in Indian Country and will for years to come.”

Washington last year agreed new tribal compacts with a number of tribes, which were then approved by the US Department of the Interior.

Earlier this year, DraftKings secured market access in Washington after it entered a retail sports betting partnership with the Tulalip Tribes of Washington.

Flutter Entertainment-owned FanDuel Group is partnered with the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, while BetMGM agreed a deal with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians to operate retail sports betting at the Emerald Queen Casino.

Caesars Entertainment opened its first retail sportsbook in Washington in February at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn.

The operator was awarded a sports wagering license by the Washington State Gambling Commission, allowing the new Caesars Sportsbook at Muckleshoot Casino to launch.

This came after Caesars agreed partnerships with each of the Muckleshoot and Spokane tribes, the latter of which owns both the Spokane Casino and Chewelah Casino.

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