AGA applauds amendments to PPP eligibility in the US

The American Gaming Association has praised the amendments made to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has applauded the amendments made to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which will allow small gambling businesses to benefit from the fund.

The Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program is an element of the CARES act that was signed into law in late March.

The PPP would make $349bn in loans available to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These loans are forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used to pay the costs of payroll, rent, utilities or mortgage interest.

When signed into law the PPP contained an element that prevented companies that relied on gambling revenue to apply for the loans.

AGA efforts

In early April, Bill Miller, the AGA’s president and chief executive, wrote to the SBA and US Department of Treasury, urging them to amend the law.

Shortly after this, Miller wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, calling for the restrictions on gambling companies to be lifted. Miller’s letter to Trump was signed by six members of Congress, nine State Senators and the Congressional Native America Caucus.

On 14 April, the SBA made some changes to the PPP rules which would allow business where gambling revenue made up less than $1m and less than half of the business’s overall revenue to benefit from the scheme. However, Miller and the AGA said these measures still fell short and would make it difficult for companies to receive support.

Miller said: “While these changes represent some progress, they fall woefully short of fully addressing antiquated, discriminatory policies that have, to date, restricted small gaming companies from accessing critical loan support made available through the CARES Act. As a result of this half-measure, small gaming businesses that have closed to comply with government orders will continue to be denied access to this critical lifeline to support their employees.”

The SBA revised the eligibility requirements again on 24 April allowing all gambling businesses to receive support as long as they meet the PPP’s definition of a small business and do not make money through illegal gambling operations.

The AGA’s response

After the SBA announced the changes to the PPP’s eligibility criteria, the AGA issued a statement where Miller applauded the decision.

Miller said: “In the nearly one month since the CARES Act was enacted to provide economic relief to blunt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Gaming Association and our allies have fought tirelessly to correct the Small Business Administration’s antiquated policy that precluded gaming companies from qualifying for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

“We are pleased that the new regulatory guidelines released today make small gaming companies eligible for this critical program just as Congress has replenished its funding.

“I’m grateful to President Trump and his administration for recognizing that commercial and tribal gaming industry employees deserve the same support available to other small businesses, and for the significant, sustained efforts of members of Congress to amplify the need for changes to the guidelines to get small gaming operators and their employees through this challenging time.”

The impact of the coronavirus on the US gambling industry

The US gambling industry has come to a standstill amid the coronavirus pandemic. All commercial casinos across the country and the majority of tribal venues have temporarily closed their doors to help stop the spread of the virus.

On top of this, almost every major sporting league has made the decision to postpone events, which will have a significant impact on sports betting operators around the globe.

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