They say you have to work hard and chase your dreams, but if you belong to the wealthiest Native American tribe in the world, you can sleep through life and still live in luxury. Their main source of income is casino gambling, and more than 200 tribes earned almost $39 billion collectively in 2015. If you are lucky to belong to one of the wealthiest tribes, you can enjoy the distribution of per capita payments every month which is part of the revenue allocation plan. Of course, the more members there are, the less your share. It has caused tribal disbandment as some seek to have larger payments by kicking out fellow tribe members. Let’s take you through four of the richest Native Americans and what each tribe member gets per month.
4. Mashantucket Pequot – Annual Revenue of $539.2 Million
In 2009, The Courant regarded the Mashantucket Pequot as the world’s richest Native American. It comprised around 800 members that received at least $100,000 per year for each adult, despite them not working. Unfortunately, while the gambling money got them addicted to the regular paychecks, they made poor investment decisions. By 2012, their main source of income, the Foxwoods Resort Casino, had a loan of over $2 billion, forcing the tribe to stop distributing the stipends and members having to look for jobs to sustain themselves. It was a gradual decrease, from $10,000 to $1,500 to $500; the tribe also offered financial counseling and other assistance to help the members cope with the changes. Fortunately, they elected Rodney Butler as their tribal chairman in 2009, who listened to the advice of financial consultants to keep expanding the casino. After the tribe defaulted on the $2.3 billion debt, it took them five years to restructure, and by 2020, they owed $1.9 billion. The Foxwoods Resort Casino has 300 game tables, the largest poker table on the East Coast, a 3,600-seat bingo hall, and a state-of-the-art race book. It has contributed over $4 billion to Connecticut and enables the Mashantucket Pequot to enjoy lucrative profit, which in 2019 was $788 million.
3. Seminole – Annual Revenue of $853.84 Million
The Seminole Tribe of Florida may be guarded about sharing tribal information with outsiders, but they were smart enough to hire a non-native chief executive for their gambling operations. In 2006, Jim Allen enabled the tribe to control the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino after beating 72 bidders. The Seminoles thought he had gone crazy, but by 2016, the savvy business executive had managed to amass lots of wealth for the tribe with a little over 4,000 members. He helped them accrue more than $5 billion in revenue from the various operations that include 23 hotels, 11 casinos, and 168 Hard Rock cafes. Immediately after, Allen was already considering adding 25 Hard Rock cafes more to the Seminole’s portfolio.
Thanks to his efforts, every tribe member gets $128,000 per year, distributed through biweekly payments. Before Allen took the helm, the members received only $30,000. Besides the hefty paychecks, members also get access to free private school and college fees, senior citizen care, and universal health care. By the time Seminole children attain 18 years, they are multi-millionaires because the child and parents are not allowed to withdraw any cash from the trust funds until the kids are adults. According to Deep South Magazine, earlier on, the Children’s Trust Fund paid Seminole high school students $17,000 upon graduation, but the amount has since grown to $200,000. The State of Florida has also been enjoying massive sums of money thanks to a deal brokered in 2010 where the tribe would make payments to the state in good faith in return for exclusivity to offer blackjack and other banked card games. The state breached the agreement, and in 2019, the Seminole tribe stopped making the $350 million annual revenue-share payments.
2. Mohegan – Annual Revenue of $992 Million
In 2004, the Mohegan reported $1.4 billion in revenue, an amount that had been increasing at a rate of 14% since 2000. According to Forbes, the tribe operates Mohegan Sun Casino, which was rated as the second-largest casino in the U.S. with 6,200 slots. As the Mohegan faced stiff competition from Mashantucket Pequot, the tribal chairman then decided to increase the assets beyond casino gambling. Thus they bought a horse-racing track making them the first Native American tribe to buy a nontribal gaming asset. The expansion of the Mohegan Sun Casino brought good tidings to the members whose stipend was increased from $12,000 to $28,000 annually. Newborns were not left behind; they would have over $400,000 by the time they were 18. Still, the annual stipends could have cost the tribe financially because, as of September 30, 2019, they had a debt of around $2 billion. Luckily, they have made sound financial investments by diversifying and investing beyond the reservation. They manage resorts and casinos in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Canada, and Louisiana. The tribe has also crossed borders to construct a multi-billion dollar casino and resort in South Korea and has casino rights in Greece. Therefore, even if their market share in Connecticut has gone down significantly, their annual revenue is still high. The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, the gambling subsidiary, reported a $992 million profit in 2019.
1. Shakopee Mdewakanton – Annual Revenue of $1 Billion
The Shakopee Mdewakanton are the wealthiest Native American tribe, going by the individual personal wealth. They are 480 members, and each member gets around $84,000 per month, as disclosed by a tribe member going through a divorce. The tribe is so rich that no one has to work; in 2012, the tribe’s President then, Stanley R. Crooks, bragged that they enjoy 99.2% of voluntary unemployment. According to Daily Mail, the main sources of income for the Shakopee Mdewakanton tribe are two casinos that attract tens of thousands of gamblers from all across the state. The Mystic Lake Casino boasts an 18-hole golf course, 2,100 seat concert venue, 600-room hotel, five restaurants, and an 8,350-seat outdoor amphitheater. The reservation also has Little Six Casino, and together, they account for $1.4 billion of Minnesota’s gambling profits.