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The American Gaming Association (AGA) has urged US President Donald Trump to include gambling businesses in the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The organization has pleaded for support in the past. Now, however, President & Chief Executive Bill Miller has stepped up his efforts. 

Miller has written directly to Trump, in a letter which has been signed by various senators and representatives. 

Policies argued to be “discriminatory” 

Gambling operators were excluded from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved on March 27th. 

The package intends to make $349 billion available in loans for small businesses affected by Covid-19. 

In the PPP, it’s explicitly stated that companies “deriving more than one-third of gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities” won’t be eligible. 

Referring to the above policies as “antiquated” and “discriminatory”, Miller said the following in his correspondence to the President. 

“The gaming industry is an important economic engine, job creator, and taxpayer in 43 states.”

“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.”

The impact of Covid-19 on the US gaming industry 

The AGA distributed a press release on March 19th, 2020. In this, it shared a bleak outlook for coronavirus’ impact on US gambling. 

Assuming that casinos remain closed for eight weeks after that date, Miller worries that “mass closures will rob the U.S. economy of $43.5 billion”. 

The AGA chief also mentioned that 350,000 jobs are generated through small gambling businesses. Moreover, they generate $52 billion combined on an annual basis. 

For the time being, all commercial casinos and the majority of tribal venues have shut their doors. 

A number of operators, both big and small, have furloughed their staff for the time being. 

In his letter to Trump, Miller worried that more jobs would be put at risk without the necessary support in place. 

He wrote the below. 

“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.”

Has Trump mentioned any possible help for gambling businesses? 

On Wednesday, Trump was asked specifically about casinos in Nevada. He said that he had not been told about small gaming businesses being excluded from support before. 

He went on to say that he can take “a strong look” at these policies. 

COVID-19’s impact on the US 

The US has fast become badly-affected by the pandemic, with 434,971 people testing positive at the time of writing. Of these, 14,802 deaths have been recorded. In the weeks commencing March 21st and March 28th alone, it was reported in the media that almost 10 million people had to file for unemployment.

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