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Native American Tribes Move Away from Casino Business

Nearly half of all Native American tribes across the nation are benefiting from casinos as well as other gaming revenues. For many, it really is their largest source of earnings. But expanding threats to that revenue resulting from competition from non-Indian gaming are forcing numerous tribes to look for other investment possibilities.

Within a dramatic example of that diversification, a single group of Native Americans is buying almost half the hotel rooms in Minnesota’s capital.

Much more than 18,000 slot machines generate an orchestral blur of electronic entertainment at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. In the moment, it is not as well crowded, enabling some patrons to play at two slot machines simultaneously.

The casino is one of two owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in central Minnesota. Over the previous two decades they’ve helped bring wealth in addition to a return to self-sufficiency for this when impoverished Indian band. Now it really is organizing to grow its prosperity by means of a new organization venture.

Final month, the Mille Lacs Band announced plans to purchase two hotels in downtown St. Paul, Minn. After the deal is finalized, the band will grow to be the single biggest hotel operator in the city.

And this deal represents a big small business shift for the band.

“We’d appreciate to see the Corporate Commission turn out to be a billion-dollar firm someday,” says Joe Nayquonabe, commissioner of corporate affairs.

Nayquonabe, who heads the small business side and turns earnings over to the tribal government, says they’d like to personal a hotel in each important U.S. market place. By putting the casino’s earnings into a new hotel venture, he says, the band will become extra economically secure.

“What Indian gaming has completed for Indian tribes is it is helped us develop fundamental infrastructure for our tribal members,” he says. “So once you look about out here at the community, we’ve got clinics, we’ve got a government center, we’ve schools, we’ve got neighborhood centers. Now we’re starting to consider how do we increase the good quality of life even more.”

Just like the Mille Lacs Band in Minnesota, tribes around the nation are looking to develop revenues.

In Nebraska, the Winnebago tribe owns much more than two dozen companies that operate in various states and overseas by means of a holding enterprise known as Ho-Chunk Inc. Businesses involve all the things from construction firms to a marketing and marketing corporation. In 2011, Ho-Chunk reported income topping $250 million.

In Wisconsin, Kevin Allis chairs the Potawatomi Company Development Corp. – a $60 million tribal holding enterprise started in 2003 with income in the tribe’s downtown Milwaukee casino.

He says they may be “occasionally funded” from a number of the profits that derive from the gaming facility.

“We’re tasked with the obligation and duty to invest it inside a sensible manner to make the asset base of your tribe and also to insulate the tribe from any future decline in gaming dollars or something that would impact that market,” Allis says.

He says the business invests in businesses all more than the county, along with the new mantra is to “diversify.”

“You can’t depend on one point,” he says. “It’s by no means a secure bet to place all of your eggs in one particular basket. It’s just not clever.”

For a lot of tribes, casinos are what have made just about any financial improvement doable, but it’s a revenue supply that is threatened.

“It’s the expanding presence of non-tribal gaming,” says Anton Treuer, executive director with the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University.

He cites Minnesota lawmakers, who final year authorized a kind of electronic gambling to assist pay for the new Vikings football stadium.

Gambling profits appear irresistible to politicians, and Treuer expects state governments to continue to seek them out to augment tax revenues.

“It becomes a little less complicated for both parties to type of do an end-around on the tribal monopoly on gaming than it is actually to either make actually really hard cuts or raise taxes,” Treuer says.

Savvy tribal leaders say diversification is about preparing for what ever competition heads their way so their financial future is not some thing left to opportunity.

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