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AGA hails Senate passage of $2tn disaster aid bill


The American Gaming Association (AGA) has hailed the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through the US Senate, saying it would help prop up the gaming industry during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

AGA president and chief executive Bill Miller urged the US House of Representatives to move quickly to pass the legislation, which would allow the bill to progress to President Donald Trump. 

The president has already pledged to sign the bill as soon as possible.

The bill, introduced by Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, comprises a $2.00tn (£1.68tn/€1.83tn) stimulus package for people, states and businesses affected by the pandemic. 

This includes emergency loans for distressed businesses, including air carriers, for whom aviation taxes are also suspended. Bridge loans for small businesses, as well as grants and technical assistance, will be provided.

It will also make tax rebates of $1,200 available for individuals, with additional payments of $500 per qualifying child, and limits on requirements for employers to provide paid leave. The rebates available decline based on an individual’s salary, from $75,000 and above.

For taxes, it establishes special rules on tax-favoured withdrawals from retirement plans, and delays the due date for employer payroll and corporation taxes. Other provisions, including those related to losses, charitable deductions and business interest, are also revised in the bill.

Despite some disagreement on certain elements, with Republican Senators pushing for provisions to ensure those laid off could not earn more from the bill than they did in their current roles, all members of the chamber ultimately voted in favour of the bill.

AGA chief executive Miller applauded the bipartisan efforts taken by the Senate, saying it would “bring meaningful relief for employees, employers, and tribal governments during this unprecedented public health crisis”.

Miller once again pointed out that with almost all commercial and tribal gaming facilities currently closed, as many as 650,000 direct gaming employees were currently unable to work. 

“If the industry remains shut down for two months, it will jeopardize the livelihoods of those individuals as well as the 17,000 gaming supplier jobs and 350,000 American small business workers supported by the gaming industry,” he said. 

The AGA has previously warned that the US economy faces $43.5bn in lost economic activity as a result of a two-month industry shut-down.

The association would therefore continue to engage with Congressional and administration leadership on additional measures to respond to the crisis, Miller said.

“This bipartisan Senate bill is an important step to preserve the gaming industry’s ability to continue to serve as a valuable job creator and community partner,” he added. “We urge the House to move swiftly to pass this legislation.