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California Leads Indian Gaming Growth

26 July 2004

CALIFORNIA – As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune: "Indian casino profits might be one of California's best-kept secrets, but from his Otay Mesa warehouse, Ron McKown doesn't need a financial analyst to understand how things are going.

"McKown manufactures slot-machine cabinets. He also buys, refurbishes and resells used slots from casinos. Until recently, he had been getting most of his used machines from Nevada.

"More and more, though, they're coming from San Diego County, where busy Indian casinos are rapidly swapping out old machines for new ones.

"…A newly released federal report confirms what McKown and others already know: California leads the nation in the growth of Indian gaming revenue. And San Diego County's nine tribal casinos are a big part of that picture, possibly generating up to half of the state's double-digit increase.

"Gross revenue for the nation's 330 Indian casinos hit $16.7 billion for the 2002-03 fiscal year, an increase of 13.7 percent over the previous year, according to audit figures released this month by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

"The largest increase was in California, at 28 percent. The state's 54 tribal casinos grossed $4.7 billion in bets minus payouts last year, according to the regulatory commission. It was more than one-fourth of the national total.

"…No matter what the total is, much of it is being generated in San Diego County. The county has more Indian casinos than any other in the nation, and four of the 10 largest in the state.

"Dennis Forst, a gaming analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets, estimates that one-third to half of the 2003 statewide growth stemmed from casinos in San Diego County…"

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