AGA calls for President Trump to amend Paycheck Protection Program

The AGA’s chief executive has written to the President of the US urging him to amend the Paycheck Protection Program to include gaming businesses.

The American Gaming Association’s (AGA) president and chief executive Bill Miller has written directly to the President of the US, Donald Trump, calling for him to include gambling businesses in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

This news comes after the AGA warned that the shutdown of the US gambling sector could cost the US economy $43.5bn in the coming months. Shortly after this, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic (CARES) Act which would create a $2tn stimulus package for people, businesses and states impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, was signed into law on 27 March.

The Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program is an element of the CARES act that would make $349bn in loans available to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Miller and the AGA have raised concerns that the scheme does not apply to companies in the gambling sector. Rules within the PPP state that businesses that derive more than “one-third of gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities” are not eligible for the loans.

Bill Miller’s letter to Trump

In the letter, which was also signed by several state representatives and senators, Miller said rules that make smaller gambling businesses exempt from accessing the loans “rely on antiquated, discriminatory policy.”

“The gaming industry is an important economic engine, job creator, and taxpayer in 43 states. We share your overriding interest in employees retaining their jobs so they can get back to work quickly once this situation has subsided. Individuals who are laid off will otherwise be pushed into unemployment assistance and Medicaid.

“Not only are workers better off when they remain connected to their employer, this approach has long-term benefits to our economy. The dislocation costs associated with widespread unemployment are severe. Maintaining employees on payroll avoids rehiring complications, saves on future training costs, and increases productivity, which is essential to a faster economic recovery.”

Miller went on to say that while smaller gambling businesses need support to pay their own staff, the gaming industry also supports 350,000 small business jobs in other sectors and that these loans will help support these employees.

Miller wrote: “Making SBA resources available to size-eligible gaming businesses is the right thing to do. As it stands, the policy discriminates against these mainstream businesses and, more importantly, the hundreds of thousands of employees who rely on gaming for their livelihood.”

The impact of coronavirus on the US gambling sector

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

Several states, including Nevada and Illinois, have extended the temporary closure of non-essential business, which includes gambling establishments, until April 30 at the earliest. 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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