Tribal Economic Impact 2018 - Page 8

As the Choctaw Nation has expanded its flagship casino in Durant, more Texas tourists are filling the casino’s parking lot. The tribe is a major employer in southeast Oklahoma. (Photo by Matt Swearengin/The Durant Democrat) Choctaw Nation drives development in SE Oklahoma BY HEIDE BRANDES THE JOURNAL RECORD DURANT – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s financial benefits to southeast Oklahoma will continue to grow, with gaming fueling much of the income. The tribe had a $1.9 billion impact for the state of Oklahoma in 2016, according to the latest available figure tribal officials reported. Gaming at the tribe’s eight casinos made up a large part of that. Division of Commerce Interim Senior Executive Officer John Elliott said the tribe paid the state more than $22 million in exclusivity fees. The exclusivity fees go to the state’s Education Reform Revolving Fund, the General Revenue Fund and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, as required by statute. The Choctaw Nation’s casinos employ about 4,600 Oklahomans. Those positions are especially welcomed in southeast Oklahoma, where several counties are among the poorest in the state. In short, the gaming business is booming, Elliott said. “The Choctaw Casino & Resort in Grant just finished a $50 million expansion last October,” he said. “The expansion created more than 100 new jobs for local residents, including a new tower with 96 well-appointed rooms including 23 suites, a deluxe resort pool, an exclusive poker room and the country’s only Chili’s Grill & Bar located in a casino.” 8 T R I B A L E C O N O M I C I M PA C T • J U LY 2 0 1 8 The state isn’t the only entity that benefits from tribal gaming. In the small communities where casinos are located, partnerships with the Choctaw Nation go beyond just sales tax and profits. COMMUNITY EFFECT The Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant plays a major role in the city; more than 2,500 people work in its Bryan County location. Durant Mayor Jerry Tomlinson said those employees are a significant part of the economy in the city and in surrounding communities. “The casino, at any given time, will host a major entertainer and this in turn will bring additional numbers of visitors not only to the casino, but many will be visiting our city as