The Ahwatukee Foothills News reports that casinos should be added to Arizona’s “Five C’s”—copper, climate, cattle, cotton and citrus—that have traditionally fueled the state’s economy.
Earnings from Arizona’s 22 tribal casinos surpassed cattle, cotton and citrus by a long shot. The gaming houses collected $1.7 billion in revenue during fiscal 2011, which ended June 30, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming’s annual report.
The Ahwatukee Foothills News compared that number to 2010 cattle industry revenues: $637 million, plus another $650 million from dairy products. While the cotton industry took a dive in 2009, the crop’s improved $206 million take the following year only accounts for a small fraction of casino wins. Even lemons, Arizona’s main citrus crop, which accounted for nearly 10 percent of the U.S. production, produced just $34 million in receipts.
According to Alan Meister of Nathan Associate, the state’s tribal casinos are succeeding because they offer a nearby destination for those not wanting to make the drive to Las Vegas. “What Indian casinos did, they brought gaming closer to the customers,” he told the Ahwatukee Foothills News. “Tribes really have grown the market.”