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Casino and consulting?Pandemic spurs tribal diversification

When the Foxwoods Resort Casino closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic connecticut For three months in 2020, its owner, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, had to consider the heavy reliance on gambling as the tribe’s main source of income for decades.

“The fact that casino revenue went from millions to zero overnight just completely reaffirms the need for diversified revenue streams,” said Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler.

Since then, the 1,000-member tribe has expanded its efforts to enter the federal contracting business, prompting several tribal states to consider casino business more seriously after the coronavirus crisis. Being one. Tribal leaders and tribal business experts say the latest and most clear that the global pandemic is that tribal governments with casinos cannot rely solely on slot machines and poker rooms to support future generations. He said it was a sign.

of MichiganThe Match Ebe Nash Sea Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians (the Gun Lake Tribe) recently launched a 25-year plan to develop several hundred acres of land near the casino into a corridor with housing, retail, manufacturing and new facilities. Announced. A 15-story hotel. The non-gambling entity, also owned by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, also in Michigan, is selling the “NativeWahl” burger franchise to other tribes after forming a partnership in 2021. wall burgera national burger chain created by the famous brothers Paul, mark and Donnie Wahlberg.

With or without casinos, some tribes have been involved in a wide range of non-gambling businesses over the past decade or more, including trucking, construction, consulting, healthcare, real estate, cannabis, and marketing. is expanding its business. Recently.

“Corporate diversification can be costly, but the need became apparent in the early stages of the pandemic. There was little income left for the game-dependent tribes.” A new report from the Indian Country Development Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

The report found that many tribes have increased their dealings with the federal government, especially the U.S. Department of Defense.

Command Holdings, the non-gambling entity of Mashantucket Pequot, made its biggest acquisition to date last year. WWC Global is a Florida-based management consulting firm that primarily works with federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and state departments. WWC announced in December that it had won a $37.5 million contract to support federal cybersecurity and infrastructure security agencies.

WWC Global CEO John Panamalov has praised Mashantucket Pequot’s casino and hospitality business, but it is important to grow the business economically as it may be subject to “market ups and downs” said it is. A member of his Sun’aq tribe in Kodiak, Alaska, he said the tribal leaders of the Mashantucket Pequots were more willing to diversify than “try to be shy and stoop” during the pandemic. I believe we have doubled down on our efforts.

According to Butler, non-gambling income, including a planned family resort with a 91,000-square-foot (8,450-square-meter) water park scheduled to open in 2025, will ultimately account for 50% to 80% of the Mashantuket tribe’s income. He said the tribe hopes to become a 10%. Pequots’ portfolio provides “stability and certainty” when another difficult event is bound to occur.

“Think of the financial crisis of 2008, and now of COVID. And something will happen again,” Butler said. I think.”

Even before the pandemic hit, some tribal casinos were already facing competitive pressure from the emergence of other gambling options, such as online betting on sports and casino games legalized in some states. At the same time, brick-and-mortar casino patrons are aging.

Dawson Herr Many Horse, Head of Native American Banking at Wells Fargo and a registered member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, said: “As casino revenues plateau, tribes will look for new business opportunities in other industries.”

Sue St. member Terry Fitzpatrick. Chippewa, Michigan He is a Murray Indian and Chief Real Estate and Global Attractions Officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation said Michigan has seen “tremendous growth” in non-gambling-related tribal businesses over the past decade. pointing out that there is Most tribes in the state are now involved in some form of economic development other than casinos.

According to Fitzpatrick, the pandemic really highlights the importance of such strategies given the economic impact of COVID-19 on tribal schools, health care centers, elder care, day care programs and other services. bottom.

“It wasn’t a loss of income,” she said.

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, Michigan closed its casino early in the pandemic. But the financial hit has been partially dampened by the Tribe’s non-gambling businesses, including companies involved in federal drone development and deemed “essential.”

The tribe’s economic development entity, Waseyabek Development Company LLC, now plans to generate at least a third of the revenue needed to support the tribe from non-gambling activities by 2040, the company said. Deidra Mitchell, President and CEO, said.

That doesn’t mean the tribe has given up gambling. Some are expanding. A Mohegan-owned gambling and hospitality business in eastern Connecticut secured a New York City gambling license this month and partnered with a New York developer to build a proposed entertainment district on Manhattan’s East Side. announced that it is Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s Chickasaw Nation is part of another consortium that wants to build a casino and entertainment complex on New York’s Coney Island.

The National Indian Gaming Association reported in August that it generated $39 billion in gross gambling revenue in fiscal 2021. This is the largest tribal gambling ever. The figure, which accounts for his 243 tribes in 29 states, increased by 40% year-on-year.

Patrick Davison, vice president of Native American gaming and finance at PNC Bank, said it has been working with tribal officials who want to build casinos but want to avoid overbuilding. He said the pandemic is “a real eye-opener for the tribe” as authorities consider the tribe’s future in the gambling business.

“There’s a lot more thought put into it,” he said. Casino and consulting?Pandemic spurs tribal diversification

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