The eligibility requirements for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have been amended to allow small gambling businesses to benefit from the fund, following an intense lobbying effort from the American Gaming Association (AGA).
The PPP is a series of loans for small businesses, which are forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The total value of the scheme is $349bn.
However the PPP – which is one element of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law on 27 March – initially would not allow companies that relied on gambling for revenue to apply for the loans.
Earlier this month (6 April), Miller and the AGA wrote a letter to the SBA and US Department of Treasury, urging them to amend this.
Two days later, the group wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, again calling for the restrictions to be removed. In adition to Miller and the AGA, the letter to the President was signed by six members of Congress, nine Senators and the Congressional Native American Caucus.
On 14 April, the SBA made some changes to the guidelines for the program, allowing businesses for which gambling revenue totaled less than $1m and made up less than half of the business’s overall revenue, rather than the previous requirement of one third.
Miller said that these initial changes “ [fell] 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”.
The SBA then revised the eligibility requirements again, on 24 April, allowing all gambling businesses – provided they meet the PPP’s definition of a small business and do not make money from illegal gambling – to receive the support.
“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,” Miller said.
“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.
Miller thanked President Trump and supporters in Congress for their work in facilitating the change.
“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.”