Casinos Not Paying Off for Indians
S A N C A R L O S, Ariz., Aug. 31 -- The plaque outside the Apache GoldCasino declares the $40 million hotel, golf and gambling resort has“helped enable the San Carlos Apache Tribe to give a betterquality of life to its tribal members.”
But seven years after the casino opened — and four years afterthe debut of a glittering new complex — many Apache families stillcrowd in small apartments or mobile homes.
The reservation’s unemployment rate has climbed from 42 percentin 1991 to 58 percent in 1997, the latest year available. Thenumber of tribal members receiving welfare has jumped 20 percent.And the tribal government still grants home sites without water andsewer connections.
“We get no help from the casino, no money, nothing,” saidPauline Randall, 75, a lifelong resident of San Carlos.
$8 Billion and Little Change
Similar complaints echo across the 1.8 million acre reservationin east Arizona, but they could just as easily be heard on manyother Indian reservations across the country that have builtcasinos in the past decade.
Despite an explosion of Indian gambling revenues — from $100million in 1988 to $8.26 billion a decade later — an AssociatedPress computer analysis of federal unemployment, poverty and publicassistance records indicates the majority of American Indians havebenefited little.
Two-thirds of the American Indian population belong to tribeslocked in poverty that still don’t have Las Vegas-style casinos.
And among the 130 tribes with casinos, a few near majorpopulation centers have thrived while most others make just enoughto cover the bills, the AP analysis found.
Despite new gambling jobs, unemployment on reservations withestablished casinos held steady around 54 percent between 1991 and1997 as many of the casino jobs were filled with non-Indians,according to data the tribes reported to the Bureau of IndianAffairs.
“Everybody thinks that tribes are getting rich from gaming andvery few of them are,” said Louise Benson, chairman of theHualapai Tribe in northwestern Arizona, one of two tribes withcasinos that failed during the 1990s.