- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The growth in revenue at American Indian casinos in North Dakota in 2012 bucked the national trend, according to a national report released Wednesday.

Casino City’s Indian Gaming Industry Report showed that Indian-owned casinos in North Dakota brought in $184 million in 2012, a 5.5 percent increase from 2011. The growth from 2010 to 2011 was 2.2 percent.

Nationally, growth slowed in 2012 to 2 percent, from 3.4 percent the previous year.

Despite the increases, North Dakota still accounted for just 0.7 percent of total gambling revenue from Indian casinos in the U.S., ranking 15th overall. The data showed that the top five states account for about 60 percent of total gambling revenue in the country.

Scott Davis, executive director of the state’s Indian Affairs Commission, said well-paid oil workers contribute a good deal to casinos in the state.

“I think it’s obviously that our state economy is doing well,” Davis said. “And our casinos are benefiting from that too.”

Weston Quinn, the chief financial officer for Dakota Magic Casino and Resort in Hankinson, said 2012 was the best year financially in the casino’s nearly two decades of operation.

“I honestly contribute it to the weather at that time,” Quinn said.

Quinn said the mild winter allowed more customers to make their way to their casino, adding that frequent interstate closures during snowy winters can hurt the business. He said many casinos are located farther from the state’s more-populated cities and that can make travel difficult, especially for their older customers, in poor driving conditions.

The report also says the number of table games at Indian casinos in North Dakota dropped 29 percent from 2011 to 2012, while the number of slot machines increased 7 percent.

Quinn said the numbers reflect how business at his casino has changed.

“For Dakota Magic, we’ve been seeing a decrease in table games for years,” he said. “And of course, an increase of slots.”

Quinn said slots are simpler and are constantly evolving, while table games can be rather difficult for some customers and haven’t really changed for many years.

To meet the increasing demand for slot machines, Quinn said Dakota Magic is looking at expanding its gambling floor and adding more machines.

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