"Pojoaque’s net win numbers have more than doubled at just under $14.6 million and account for 50 percent of the slot revenues in this area"
In June 2008, the “great recession” had not hit, the Pueblo of Pojoaque’s Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino was a few weeks away from opening, and the total net win for the four Santa Fe/Espanola area casinos stood at $27.6 million.
Four years late,r the net win for the four Pueblos (Ohkay Owingeh, Pojoaque, Santa Clara and Tesuque) during the same quarter was $29.1 million, an increase of 5.3 percent. Any marketing manager will tell you growth, even though just over an average of 1.3 percent per year, is better than declining revenues, especially during the recession. However, for three of the pueblos, those numbers don’t mean much as their revenue and market share dropped.
The big winner has been the Pueblo of Pojoaque. In the second quarter of 2008, Pojoaque owned and operated the profitable but aging Cities of Gold Casino and the Sports Bar Race Book & Casino. Their net win for that period was just under $7.1 million. Four years later—-with 1200 new slot machines in the majestic Buffalo Thunder Casino and with the other two smaller casinos still operating (the Sports Bar recently closed—Pojoaque’s net win numbers have more than doubled at just under $14.6 million and account for 50 percent of the slot revenues in this area.
Taking the biggest hit was Ohkay Casino which has seen its net win drop more than 42 percent since 2008. Camel Rock Casino, which had been the number one casino in this area, has experienced a 33 percent decrease. Santa Clara Casino, which added a hotel during this period, is down 12 percent when compared to the second quarter of 2008.
How much of Pojoaque’s gain was due to attracting new money—visitors from outside the Santa Fe/Espanola area—or simply taking some of the other three casino’s customer base?
I would say both. When Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino opened, it became the 800-pound gorilla among casinos in this area. It offered more amenities and it would be hard to argue that some gamblers in the area switched to the new property. And, with the major amenities (class hotel, spa, golf), Buffalo Thunder was able to attract customers from within and out of state.
But the other casinos are working to get back market share. The Santa Claran has seen major upgrades to their gaming, dining and hospitality areas, and their location in the center of Espanola has helped them. The latest numbers move them ahead of Tesuque for second place among the Santa Fe/Espanola area casinos.
Camel Rock still is the closest casino to the Santa Fe population center (11.6 miles from the plaza), and that is a plus for the Pueblo of Tesuque-owned casino and there has been talk of building a new casino even closer to Santa Fe. Tesuque’s tribal land adjoins the Santa Fe Opera on a site where they currently operate a flea market. If Tesuque was to build a casino there it would be four miles closer to the Santa Fe Plaza (7.6 miles) with a nice interchange that provides easy on-easy off access. Tesuque is the only casino in the Santa Fe/Espanola area that does not have a hotel, and the suggested site may or may not include one.
Ohkay, located on the northern edge of Espanola, is the furthest away from the Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Espanola population centers, and has been affected the most by the competition.
Here are the 2008 vs. 2012 second quarter net win numbers for the four Pueblos:
Pueblo 2008 2012 % Diff Current Market Share
Ohkay Owingeh $6,011,921 $3,454,685 -42.5% 11.8%
Pojoaque $7,083,013 $14,585,091 +106% 50.2%
Santa Clara $6,420,113 $5,647,812 -12% 19.4%
Tesuque $8,115,132 $5,413,415 -33.3% 18.6%
Totals $27,639,179 $29,010,003 +5.3% 100%
Note: The State of New Mexico Gaming Control Board collects a percentage of the slot machine gaming revenues (not table games or bingo revenues) from each of the Indian casinos. The collection is based on net win, which is “the amount wagered on gaming machines, less the amount paid out in cash and non-cash prizes won on the gaming machines, less State and Tribal Regulatory fees.” The information, including the recently released second quarter report, is public information.