SEATTLE, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Once-prosperous Washington state Indian tribal casinos are hurting financially thanks to the recession and high debt loads, statistics indicate.
The economic downturn is having a big impact on the state's tribal gaming revenues, which were down 30 percent in 2009 at some venues, The Seattle Times reported Sunday.
"We were riding a high wave and a long one," W. Ron Allen, chairman of the Washington Indian Gaming Commission, told the newspaper. "You didn't have to think, you could just go ahead and implement a marketing plan because it sounded good, you didn't have to question it or challenge it. Now this is forcing tribes to step back to say, 'Wait a minute now.'"
The downturn has reportedly resulted in legal battles, with the Nooksack tribe finding itself in court with its lender while Snoqualmie tribe officials are fighting to meet debt demands on their casino.
"It's like nothing we've seen, over the past two years," Standard & Poor's gaming and lodging managing director Craig Parmelee told the Times. "Going back to 1997-2007, never did more than two gaming companies default (nationally), and in many years none did, and in the past two years, 20 did."