The 'New Buffalo' Confronts a Pandemic: Implications of the COVID-19 Shock for the Indigenous Gaming Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic is an economic shock that affects both the supply of and demand for goods and services. These effects are particularly profound in the hospitality and leisure sector, which includes the gaming industry. COVID-19 therefore has the potential to result in lasting damage to localities that depend on gaming revenues. For Indigenous gaming communities, the stakes are especially high. The Indigenous casino and gaming industry has been characterized as the coming of the “new buffalo,” a trope that alludes to the high levels of wealth enjoyed by bison-reliant communities in the Great Plains. Indeed, Indigenous gaming has been a valuable engine of economic growth for many communities across North America, but COVID-19 reveals this economic success to be a double-edged sword. The COVID-19 shock is now threatening to undermine an industry that has come to play a critical role in the physical and financial health of Indigenous gaming communities as well as in their capacity to exercise their right to self-determination.
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