Sponsored by Oregon Business

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.

More Articles

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

We get the education we deserve.


Living the dream

Friday, August 21, 2015

smugglespearsthumbRenee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


New green wood building product takes off in Oregon

Thursday, September 10, 2015
091115-cltjohnson-thumbBY KIM MOORE

Oregon is set to become a hub of a new type of wooden building design as a southern Oregon timber company becomes the first certified manufacturer of a high-tech wood product, known as cross-laminated timber, or CLT.


Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


Counterpoint: CLT not as green as people think

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
photo-flickr-glasseyes viewthymbBY GREGG LEWIS | OP-ED

The issue of green-washing remains a significant challenge to those of us who would like to see the building sector in this country do more than make unverifiable claims of sustainability. Transparency about the impacts of a given material is the only way to allow designers to make intelligent choices when selecting building products.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02