American Gaming Association (AGA) president and chief executive Bill Miller has written directly to US President Donald Trump, urging him to amend the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include gaming businesses.
The PPP is one element of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law on 27 March, aiming to make $349bn in loans available to small businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
However, Miller and the AGA have raised concerns that the scheme does not apply to gambling companies. Rules attached to the PPP state businesses “deriving more than one-third of gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities” are ineligible for the loans.
The AGA this week aired its concerns in a letter to the SBA and US Department of Treasury, but Miller has now taken this a step further by reaching out directly to President Trump.
In the letter, also signed by a number of state Representatives and Senators, Miller said rules that seemingly making smaller gambling businesses exempt from accessing the the loans “rely on antiquated, discriminatory policy”.
“The gaming industry is an important economic engine, job creator, and taxpayer in 43 states,” Miller said. “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 also pointed out that while small gambling businesses need financial support for their own staff, the gaming industry supports 350,000 small business jobs in other industries. The loans would also support these workers, he wrote.
“Making SBA resources available to size-eligible gaming businesses is the right thing to do,” he said. “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.
“Accordingly, I trust you will agree it is critical that gaming companies and their employees can benefit from SBA loan programs, as the CARES Act intended.”