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Stoyan Todorov October 12, 2020 4 min read
AGA Warns No Federal Aid Is Coming for Casinos before Elections
The American Gaming Association has warned the casino industry not to expect additional financial relief until after the elections in November.
Casinos to Receive Further Economic Stimulus Only After Elections
With the casino industry suffering gigantic losses across the United States, the promise of federal aid has been welcomed by businesses and the industry’s trade body, the American Gaming Association (AGA).
However, AGA government relations official Chris Cylke has warned casinos not to get their hopes high before the elections. According to Cylke, the current electoral climate makes it difficult to negotiate quick relief funds for the sector.
The government already acted once this year when it voted, approved and then amended the CARES Act to expand coverage to casino businesses. Yet, without additional help right now, Cylke says that casinos find themselves in a “stimulus purgatory.”
Lawmakers are split on whether more money should be coughed up for the industry. Some Congressmen agree that further financial aid is necessary whereas others baulk at the idea. Either way, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has too hinted that lawmakers are unlikely to finalize a stimulus deal until after the elections.
Bipartisan Support for Casino Recovery
The Democrats and Republicans are also pushing for different numbers. The GOP wants to allocate $1.8 trillion whereas the Democrats want to see $2.2 trillion allocated to the economy for relief efforts, similar to the CARES Act.
Cylke wasn’t too specific about what type of support the casino industry needs to bounce back. Already, casinos have begun reopening and even slowly phasing in their table games, which were the most hotly-contested part of their reopening.
Las Vegas, which has experienced unprecedented levels of turmoil and declining gaming revenue, has been recovering slowly with Governor Steve Sisolak keeping businesses opening to the best of his ability.
However, revenue in August plummeted by over 22% year-over-year (YOY), according to a Nevada Gaming Control Board report. Trips to Las Vegas fell by over 57% and occupancy in hotels decreased to 42%.
Cylke fears that a repeat of the original CARES Act scenario may happen should the federal government decide to give the new economic stimulus. Previously, the support scheme wanted to leave out major casino companies to fend for themselves and only cover expenses to small companies and specifically payroll and other basic expenditures for a limited time.
While Las Vegas giants didn’t object overtly to the previous act, the American Gaming Association and the Nevada Resort Association proved vehement proponents of revising the financial aid to expand and cover big casino brands as drivers of economic progress in entire regions.
Back the Tourism and Casino Industries to Save Public Services
Nevada Resort Association CEO Virginia Valentine warned that should the industry not be restored up to some operational capability, job losses and cut to essential government services would follow next.
Cylke further argued that a federal bill needs to support casinos and provide them with protection from coronavirus-related liability lawsuits. Nevada has already passed legislation designed to exempt casinos from liability in such cases.
These so-called frivolous lawsuits are defined as cases where no proof and connection can be established between where an infection occurred and the infected individual.
However, a new examination of where the most COVID-19 exposure happens in Las Vegas cites the names of established casinos, including The Venetian, Bellagio, MGM Grand and Caesars Palace according to a respected local media. The Las Vegas Review-Journal collated data from five separate analyses to reach this conclusion.
The push to recovery has been multi-faceted, involving a lot of legislative action. U.S. Rep. Dina Titus is pushing on with a bill that would see additional funding go into tourism advertisement. “We’ve proven that Las Vegas is a resilient city many times and we will do so again, but we cannot do it alone,” Titus assured in a statement.
According to Wynn CEO Matt Maddox, Las Vegas and the casino industry need to be patient. The road to full recovery will be long.