Trump says he’ll look into small business loan program restricting casinos
President Trump on Wednesday was asked during his daily coronavirus press briefing about small casinos not qualifying to receive small business loans from the coronavirus relief package.
“I can look at that. I can look. It’s a great state, and I will take a look at that strongly. Are you talking only the smaller casinos? Yeah, I’ll take a look at that. I don’t mind that,” Trump said when asked about it and how it impacts Nevada, which is a hub for casinos.
He added, “Nobody’s told me about it, but I’ll look at it. It’s a great state, they do a great job.”
The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) last week rolled out applications for the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), designed to provide loans for small businesses to meet payroll and other basic expenses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Businesses that get more than one-third of their gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities are ineligible for the loans.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) wrote to Trump on Wednesday about the issue, urging the president to allow small gaming companies and their employees to benefit from the SBA loans program.
“[The] rules rely on antiquated, discriminatory policy that renders small gaming entities ineligible to receive critical loan assistance designed to help small businesses pay their employees,” AGA CEO Bill Miller wrote in the letter.
If U.S. casinos stay closed until the middle of May, it will cost the economy $43.5 billion in economic activity, according to data from AGA. All of the 465 commercial casinos in the U.S. were closed as of March 23.
“In addition to gaming’s considerable needs to pay and provide for our own direct workforce, the gaming industry also supports 350,000 small business jobs. Making SBA resources available to size-eligible gaming businesses is the right thing to do,” Miller wrote. “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.”
Updated: 8:18 p.m.