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Tribal casinos slim down in hard times

Gamblers play on some of the slot machines at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: There's an annual gambling conference that starts in Phoenix today. The National Indian Gaming Associations wants to keep people coming to tribal casinos in the midst of the fallout. It's not easy -- some tribes are having to cut frills or find alternative means of income. Marketplace's Caitlan Carroll has more on the conference.


Caitlan Carroll: When money's tight, who's gambling?

Doug Elmets is a spokesman for California Indian casinos. He says a lot of folks, actually:

Doug Elmets: The reality of the situation is that most gaming casinos are still making an awful lot of money.

True, the $26 billion industry isn't living as high and wild as it once was. But the same number of people are walking through casino doors. They're just betting less. So to cope, Indian casinos are slimming down. Gone are the spas, hotels and golf courses added when times were flush.

Steve Light is co-director of the University of North Dakota's tribal gaming institute. He says tribes are spreading around their investments.

Steve Light: What a number of tribes have done in terms of industry, it ranges from things like making the Kevlar vests that our troops use in Iraq and Afghanistan to actually chocolatiers.

He says that doesn't mean Indian gaming is gone -- far from it. Tribes are just hedging their bets.

I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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