Standing Rock casino sees recovery after pipeline protest
FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) — Finances at a casino run by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are slowly improving, after facing a $6 million shortfall during the peak of the Dakota Access oil pipeline protest in February.
Blizzards and the protest’s closure of the Prairie Knights Casino’s main access road led to a decline in visitors and revenue over the end of 2016 and beginning of this year, the Bismarck Tribune reported .
“It’s a slow recovery, but it is on the incline,” said Tribal Chairman Mike Faith.
The casino funds programs in all eight of the reservation’s districts, including food distribution, insurance and bonding, programs for the elderly and veterans, fire and ambulance services, waste management, health programs, and K-12 education, said former Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.
A 2012 economic development strategy report showed the casino made $12.6 million in net revenues in 2010 for the tribal government, said Tribal CFO Jerome Long Bottom. He said he wasn’t able to share any other information about the casino’s earnings.
The casino saw a return in the number of visitors in late October, when 2,000 people attended the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert at the casino’s pavilion.
“That’s the highest we’ve had for a while,” said LaRoy Kingsley, who handles the casino’s marketing.
Concerts usually bring between 1,000 and 1,500 people to the venue, said E.J. Iron Eyes, the casino’s general manager. He said the casino is getting back to its peak visitor numbers from 2015, and that casino officials started to see an uptick in visitors as soon as the main access road re-opened.
The tribe has also been able to fund much of its programming again, said Iron Eyes.
The casino is now looking to invest in new slot machines in order to keep the venue in mint condition.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com