“The annual Prairie Knights Casino intake was approximately $14 million in 2015 and dropped to near $8 million in 2016,” the Teton Times reports.
The Times is a newspaper based in McLaughlin, South Dakota, which covers events on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations. Back on February 1st they published a lengthy look into the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s budget situation.
The Standing Rock Tribe operates two casinos. The Prairie Knights facility near Cannon Ball, ND, (which played host to a lot of the celebrities and activists who came to the #NoDAPL protests) and the Grand River Casino near Mobridge, SD.
“Due to the DAPL protest, the tribe’s casino revenue is now under $9 million,” the paper reports.
That’s a big hit for the tribe. Casino revenue is the largest chunk of the tribe’s budget and is used for “tribal loans taken for infrastructure on the reservation, including district streets, housing construction and renovation, water infrastructure, the construction of Headstart buildings in the districts, and the tribe’s insurance for the districts” as well as “to match federal grants for Disaster Recovery, Food Distribution, and matching grants for other tribal programs,” the paper reports.
The casino revenue also funds a number of social programs on the reservation, such as care for the elderly. But because the tribe “has made assurances on paying the loans for the infrastructure projects, and used collateral to guarantee the loans for the infrastructure projects, the tribe will prioritize its obligations to the banks in order to keep the tribe in good standing.”
In other words, the lost revenues thanks to the protest has made less money available those social programs.
The report also indicates that the tribe has received some $6 million in donations as a result of the #NoDAPL protests, and while that revenue can be used in the short term to meet budget shortfalls, you have to wonder what the long term fiscal implications will be.
A big slice of Standing Rock’s casino business comes from surrounding communities such as Bismarck and Mandan. But after months of being terrorist by political extremists associated with the #NoDAPL movement, will members of those communities be willing to go back to the casino again for some entertainment and relaxation?
I have a feeling Standing Rock’s casino business is going to be diminished for some time to come.