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Oklahoma tribe's net revenue could exceed projects for next fiscal year

ADA, Okla. (AP) _ Net revenue from casinos may reach 15 percent over what Chickasaw Nation officials projected the tribe would clear in the next fiscal year.

The tribe expects to earn about $170 million, according to a budget approved Friday by tribal legislators. If the projection pans out, the tribe will triple what it netted from gamblers in fiscal 2003.

Tribal officials voted to increase funding for several programs, including education, which received nearly $5.1 million or a $4.7 million increase from the previous year.

Three of 13 legislators voted against the overall budget, saying more money should have been put aside for college grants.

The tribe runs 11 casinos in its 13-county area of southern Oklahoma.

They range from small trailers holding a couple hundred electronic machines to the nearly 200,000-square-foot WinStar Casino near the Texas border on Interstate 35. That facility has 2,200 machines, several card tables, restaurants and an entertainment stage.

The tribe also has broken ground on an Interstate 35 casino south of Norman that will be bigger than the WinStar.

According to documents released Friday, the tribe expects to make $6.9 billion at its casinos, trading posts and smokeshops in fiscal 2006. Projected gross revenue _ after winners are paid but before operating expenses _ is $293.2 million.

Overall revenue for tribal businesses should reach $172.3 million.

The tribe set aside $84 million for unspecified business projects, $10 million for land purchases and $21 million for a planned cultural center at Sulphur.

Tribal Gov. Bill Anoatubby's former chief of staff complained that Chickasaw members living outside the tribe's jurisdictional area aren't being helped by gambling income.

Jim Humes, who served from 1987 to 1990 in Anoatubby's first term, said he learned last month that only 36 percent of the tribe's 20,169 registered voters live within that area.

``The vast majority of tribal funds are expended for the benefit of 7,254 registered voters and their family members,'' Humes told legislators.

He asked them to establish government programs to aid those living outside the 13 counties.

The legislature took no action on his request.
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