Want to join our Tribal auditing team!?

Do you enjoy traveling and experiencing a new challenge almost weekly? If you’re interested in accounting, and growing your experience through working with Tribal Governments nationwide, we’d like to meet you!

We offer an exciting and rewarding workplace that provides a unique and unforgettable work experience, time to study for the CPA, and a dynamic, close-knit, work culture.

If you’d like to learn more, or are interested in applying please either message me with your resume, and I’d be happy to set you up with an interview, or go to this link for more details. https://bluebirdcpas.com/careers-cpa-accounting-firm-reno-nevada/

Top 8 1/2 ah-ha moments on my 35th birthday!

I know it’s not old, but it sure isn’t young either. I can still dance all night (but start yawning around 11pm), play basketball with the college kids (but avoid tough rebounds), and talk pop culture (but my recollect stops at Drake), so I don’t know – I may be right on the cusp? Don’t answer that, younger friends. 🙂

I’m currently in my last semester of my MBA, and am required to post 2 blogs a week regarding my profession and / or passion; however, this week I’m putting a little twist on it. I’m posting about me, because, well, it’s my birthday tomorrow and as everyone knows, we do a lot of introspecting on our birthdays.

I thought it’d be fun to post the top 8 things I’ve learned to this point in my life. I hope you like it, and I thought it’d be better than asking you to donate to my favorite charity.

One more note, I personally could work on a lot of these.

#8 You don’t need to be something

  • I think when you’re younger you have a picture of exactly who you want to be, but I’ve learned that you don’t really need to be anything specific. The most successful people I’ve met have had the courage to move through life at their speed, either alone or with people they choose.

#7 Pick your passions on what you’re passionate about

  • Seems pretty common sense, but everyone is different. Your passions don’t have to be trendy. It’s okay to have unique passions. Be unique. I find the most interesting people to be passionate about something I’ve never thought of.

#6 There is no one destination or final point

  • The people looking (or working) for one final point will be looking forever. Destinations are only stops and there is no “end zone” Nothing is as grand as it seems, so enjoy the journey.

#5 Relationships are everything

  • The journey is only as good as the relationships you build. Good relationships reduce anxiety and make life so much more enjoyable. If you have good relationships with friends, family, and your significant others you’re both less anxious about the future and more secure about the present. Invest wisely.

#4 When times are tough, vices become much clearer and more seductive

  • It’s important to avoid getting close to the theoretical edge, whether financially or emotionally, because as you get closer– vices become more seductive. Make your motives clear, and don’t’ sacrifice anything in the grey area.

#3 Be vulnerable

  • By being guarded you’ll hold entirely too much in. If you have the ability to be vulnerable, others will allow themselves to be vulnerable around you. This is how true friendships are built.

#2 Give Back

  • Similar to the gym, nobody has ever regretted contributing to something they believe in. Find something you’re passionate about and try to give back in any way you can. Trust me, it’ll make you feel better, and, selfishly, giving back is actually taking a lot.

#1 No rush

  • You don’t need exact directions and you don’t need to run through life. Slow down, surround yourself with good people, and enjoy.

#1/2 Read “How to win friends and influence people”.

  • If you know me, you know I love this book! I suggest this book to everyone having work issues or life issues. It’s not really a life lesson, so I gave it a ½.

Well, that’s it. My top 8 ah-ha moments at 35. I wonder what they’ll be at 45, 55, and 65!? What are some of your top ah-ha moments?

Grant Update! NABDI Grant applications are almost due.

The Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) Grant, which funds feasibility studies for new business, application deadline is July 2, 2021.

The NABDI Grant funds tribes in weighing the risks of a new business endeavors.

Some examples of past Grant recipients include:

  • Evaluate the financial sustainability of a recreational vehicle park project 
  • Explore the possibility of turning an old building into an art gallery and park 
  • Evaluate the feasibility of developing an on-reservation affordable housing complex 
  • Explore the viability of developing a destination resort comprised of a hotel, conference center and casino
  • Evaluate a proposed commercial site for tourism purposes.
  • Determine the best use for a land parcel to further its goal of developing an industrial warehouse and distribution center.

The NABDI Grant can range from $25,000 to $75,000, and approximately 20 to 35 grants will be issued.

Why conduct a feasibility study?

Feasibility studies are appropriate for almost any type of potential business project. 

Feasibility studies are used by tribal governments as economic development decision-making tools, and they can be used to access funding opportunities. Some state and federal grants require feasibility studies, and most lenders and investors prefer to review a feasibility study before providing capital.

Here are details on the application process https://www.bia.gov/service/grants/tedc/apply-nabdi-grant

* U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs

My input, opinion, and potential opportunity

The village I lived in as a child has a lot of great business opportunities within the tourism sector. It’s the last location on the Alaska Highway before entering Canada, and, during the summer, tourism past this location is incredibly high of people searching for the Alaskan experience. I think an Airbnb may be a good business to evaluate at this location.

There are 3 Airbnb’s at the nearest “town”, which is one hour away on the Alaska Highway (opposite of Canada). The prices start at $139 and go up to $169 per night; however, these locations are not by bodies of water and do not offer the frontier experience of Alaska.

3.5 hours away, along the Alaska Highway, the houses by bodies of water range between $250 and $350 a night.

The house that costs $250 a night, 3.5 hours away, is almost entirely booked for June, July, and August.

Testing the feasibility of an Airbnb business in this village may be beneficial for both the tribal government’s economic success and providing jobs for local tribal members in both the building and maintenance of the location. I believe the NABDI Grant would be a great tool to decide whether this would be a beneficial business for the area.

Why I think Data Analyst make the best Casino Live Entertainment Promoters.

Let’s be honest, Casino’s Live Entertainment these days is a numbers game. While the classic showrooms used to be home of over-comping hospitality riders, $100 usher handshakes, and hidden (sellable) tables, the modern-day entertainment venue is a Data Analyst’s playground.

Live Entertainment bookings used to be a “gut feeling”. Entertainment directors would have their hand on the pulse of pop culture and be able to determine which acts would be “hot or not”. The value of these directors was determined by both how accurate their predictions were and their relationships with the artists.

Things have changed. The live entertainment industry is now full of membership sites that provide sales information, popularity statistics, and endless data to determine what’s hot and what’s not. Pollstar is the best example of one of these membership sites.

By using Pollstar, a member can find, and determine, almost any entertainer’s worth in a region. Once the price is determined, a proforma* is created to determine the costs, revenues, and profitability based on historic costs and statistically expected revenues. The days of the “gut feeling” are over, and the days of statistics, proformas, and budgeting are among us.

While in business school, I completed a project using statistics that would change my approach to live entertainment programming forever, well, at least until I transitioned to a full-time accountant. I determined the variables of live entertainment that had the largest impact on food and beverage sales. The three most significant variables impacting the restaurant’s revenue were the show’s start time, the day of the week, and, most surprisingly, ticket prices.

The higher ticket prices would result in both a higher amount of ticket sales and higher food and beverage revenue. Shockingly, I learned that higher costing entertainers would result in LESS risk. We tested the theory. The results were incredible. The food and beverage revenues were significantly impacted, the marketing for the property was buzzing, and the ticket sales were record breaking. The statics paid off, and this was only the beginning.

I believe that with the current resources available, it makes sense to have a data analyst responsible for your entertainment either as the individual accountable for the accuracy of the proformas or the right-hand man of the trendy entertainment director.

* A proforma is a document that is constructed for every event in the Casino. It determines all direct costs associated with the event, and the expected revenues. Revenues include both cash and comp revenue. Casinos should compare these proformas to actual results. The comparison should determine the value of your entertainment director, or whomever prepares them – not the profitability of the venue.

Should Casino’s Manage their restaurants in-house or outsource to a third-party management company?

I’ve noticed several different types of management styles for restaurants within Casinos both as a Financial Auditor and as an Operator myself. I’ve worked for a third-party management company within the MGM Resorts and as a Casino Director responsible for on property amenities. Each management style has its benefits and pitfalls. The most noticeable difference between management styles is the venues relationship with Comp Revenue, the treatment of Casino guests, and the goals of chasing revenues compared to profitability.

Based on revenues, yelp reviews, and knowledge that third-party management focuses exclusively on the product it provides, I believe that the moderate loss in food and beverage profitability as a percentage of total revenue is worth the advantages of a third-party management agreement. Transferring the responsibility of hiring, training, and managing onto experts within the restaurant industry is more beneficial than managing a team within the Casino’s organizational chart. In addition, the ability of a third-party management company to utilize their database and brand equity to advertise your Casino is invaluable.

In 2020, 11 of the Highest Grossing U.S. Restaurants were located on the Las Vegas Strip inside Casino Resorts.

  • #7 Top of the World, $25.2M in estimated sales *
  • #17 Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, $22.2M in estimated sales
  • #21 Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres, $22.2M in estimated
  • #22 SW Steakhouse, $21.5M in estimated sales *
  • #25 Mon Ami Gabi, $20.1M in estimated sales
  • #37 Lavo Italian Restaurant & Lounge, $18.4M in estimated sales
  • #38 Prime Steakhouse, $18.2M in estimated sales *
  • #56 Delmonico Steakhouse, $16.2M in estimated sales
  • #65 Carmine’s at the Forum Shops at Caesars, $15.1M in estimated sales
  • #75 Beauty & Essex, 14.1M in estimated sales
  • #100 Virgil’s Real Barbecue, $11.4M in estimated sales

* managed by Casino management.

Of those 11 restaurants, 3 are managed by the Casino’s internal staff and 8 are managed by third-party operators. The three Casinos are The Strat, the Wynn, and the Bellagio. Both the Wynn management and the Bellagio management also operate 5-star hotels, and arguably the most luxurious resorts in the world. The Strat is home to the Top of the World restaurant, which has one of the best views of the entire Las Vegas strip. These Casinos are either blessed with an outstanding location, such as the Strat, or are culturally programmed to sacrifice no expense in the pursuit of quality, such as the Bellagio and the Wynn.

When it comes to Yelp reviews, among the top ten rated restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, only one is managed by the Casino, Bacchanal Buffet in Caesars Palace.

In 2016, according to a report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and UNLV Center for Gaming Research, food and beverage revenue makes up approx. 22 percent of casino’s total yearly revenue. The beverage revenue is climbing, but the food revenue remains relatively consistent year over year, excluding 2020.

What do you think? Is the third-party management worth the expense?

The Marijuana Boom. Is the Marijuana Industry the next Tribal Gaming?

As I observe an increasing number of Tribes investing in Marijuana Enterprises, I find myself wondering about the similarities between the birth of Tribal Gaming and the current status of Tribal Marijuana. What are the similarities and differences, and can this type of risky enterprise be the next cash cow for Tribes nationwide?

Under the Controlled Substance Act, federal law continues to prohibit both the use and sale of cannabis; however, as of April 14, 2021 marijuana is fully legal in 16 states and Washington, DC. (USAFACTS.org) This provides the industry with tricky obstacles in successfully operating Marijuana enterprises; for instance, the marijuana that a business sells must be grown, sold, used, and taxed within state lines, and without the use of any federal land or means of commerce.  Within this limitation, supply chain management is difficult, the use of banks (who are federally managed) is prohibited, and the utilization of federally managed resources, specifically water, is unavailable.

However, according to the Annual State of the Cannabis Industry Report, Nationwide cannabis sales increased by 67% in 2020. The U.S. cannabis industry is currently worth $61B, and it expects to grow by approx. 30% in 2021 and continue to grow into the future. (stateofthecannabisindustry.com)

From my experience, Tribal Enterprises investing into the cannabis industry are no exception to the incredible growth across the Marijuana industry; yet, these enterprises are experiencing challenges in creating standardized internal controls. Unlike the gaming industry, which requires compliance to the NIGC’s Minimum Internal Control Standards, the Marijuana Industry does not have a system of controls shared amongst the operators. These lack of controls makes the industry not only a “learn as you go” experience but also a breeding ground for possible fraud.

So, what do you think? Is Marijuana either the next cash cow or is it too risky to invest in?

Purpose of the Blog

Hello and welcome to my Blog.

I’m a tribal accountant, who travels to Tribal Lands nationwide. In fact, over seventy five percent of my time is spent on Tribal Lands in Oklahoma, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Nevada and California working with Tribal Leadership. It’s a lot of travel, but as an Alaskan Native myself, I find it fascinating working with these governments and learning from Tribes on both their cultural and economic endeavors.

I’ve come to realize that the goals of not only Tribal Governments but also Governments worldwide is to find the delicate balance between cultural identity and economic success. This Blog will focus on both; however, with the incredible ascent of Tribal Gaming, the development of the Marijuana enterprises, and the constant unfolding of Grants available – this blog will primarily be focusing on topics in Tribal economics.  

This blog is going to include opinions, entertainment, and information regarding both my weekly travels and tribal enterprises nationwide. I hope you enjoy, and above all, I hope we find that balance between economic success and a strong cultural identity together.