Tribal casinos feel the pinch

| Print |  Email
Archives - June 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
ATSMIllCasinoCustomers are spending less at The Mill Casino in Coos Bay.
Photo courtesy of The Mill Casino.
Revenue slightly decreased at some casinos last year and flatlined at others, according to Bob Whelan of ECONorthwest, which analyzes the revenue figures of the state’s nine tribal casinos for a study commissioned by the tribes.

Headcounts are up 12.5% even as customers decreased their spending by an average of $10 each at The Mill Casino in Coos Bay, says spokesman Ray Doering. He says revenue for the first quarter of 2009 is flat compared to the first quarter of 2008.

The Mill laid off 33 workers in October but has hired 12 of them back, and has 12 more positions open now. Doering says eliminating staff, cutting back hours and freezing raises for management cut enough costs to offset the loss in revenue due to reduced customer spending. Promotions such as early-bird specials in the restaurant and temporary reduced prices at the hotel have drawn new customers from outside struggling Coos County, where unemployment is 13.7%.

Jeff Dense, an economics professor at Eastern Oregon University who researches gaming, says consumers taking vacations closer to home, along with a smoking ban in bars with video lottery machines, has helped prop up business at tribal casinos. People drive 50 miles to get to a casino instead of walking down the street to a bar? “If they could smoke, they’d travel,” Dense says.

He says lotteries are usually more recession-proof than casinos, but not this year. The state reports lottery revenues are down 9%.

Headcounts and revenues were steady at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grande Ronde in the first quarter of this year, says CEO Rodney Ferguson, but he says customers now spend more on non-gaming activities than gaming. Kah-Nee-Ta, Wildhorse and Chinook Winds casinos say their revenue is flat over last year. The Old Camp, Three Rivers, and Kla-Mo-Ya casinos did not respond to inquiries.

Local economies may have an impact on tribal casinos. Fifty-six jobs were cut in January at Seven Feathers Casino in Douglas County, where unemployment is 16.9%. Wayne Shammel, general counsel for the Cow Creek tribe, says revenue is down more than 15% from last year. He expects more traffic now that the casino hotel has added 155 rooms. But for now, customers are scarce. “There’s no such thing as milk, bread, eggs and a hand of blackjack,” he says.
ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

Energy Stream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 


Read more...

European Vacation

Guest Blog
Thursday, April 23, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

There are winners and losers with a strengthening U.S. dollar.


Read more...

Downtime with the director of Barley's Angels

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play with Christine Jump.


Read more...

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Male tech workers speak out on the industry's gender troubles.


Read more...

Shades of Gray

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Are we too quick to diagnose corruption?


Read more...

The ancient fish that stops bullets

The Latest
Friday, May 08, 2015
hagfishthumbBY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.


Read more...

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS