U.S. Casinos Seeking Covid-19 Recovery Relief

U.S. casinos want help recovering from four months of Covid-19 shutdowns and are seeking tax and regulatory relief from the government.

It’s estimated that more than $2 billion in tax revenue was lost while casinos were shut down for four months this year.

About 90 percent of casinos have since reopened, but are operating at restricted levels as the pandemic rages on. Additional financial aid is needed for casinos and their workers, the head of the gambling industry’s national trade group said.

In his State of the Casinos speech at the G2E 2020 conference—an online conference this year—American Gaming Association President Bill Miller said the industry is recovering, but needs government help.

“Gaming has never experienced a disruption like COVID-19,” he said. “Over two weeks in March, every casino in America was closed by government-mandated shutdowns, impacting each of the 1.8 million jobs we support.

“Gaming workers, their families, and the small businesses that depend on us have all been hit hard,” Miller said. ”And our states and communities are feeling it, too. In addition to COVID’s impact on businesses, jobs, and the well-being of our families, friends and colleagues, state budgets have been decimated by the pandemic.”

Miller pointed to Detroit, which lost $600,000 in gambling tax revenue for every day its casinos were shut, he said. The pandemic wiped out $209 million in gaming tax revenue in Maryland and $323 million in Pennsylvania, he added, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The industry has gained access to pandemic relief funds as part of a massive package Congress approved this year. Though he could not specify an amount. Miller said casinos will insist on inclusion in any future aid package.

In the meantime, casinos want liability protection so that businesses that follow public health guidelines cannot be sued by people who contract the virus. The industry also wants tax relief to help save jobs, alleviate COVID-19 expenses and help boost consumer travel.

According to the AP, a bill from Democratic U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, of Nevada, and Republican Kevin Cramer, of North Dakota, would support the convention and trade show industries by establishing a tax credit for the cost of attending or hosting them in the United States from 2021 through 2023.

Finally, Miller said casinos have long been pushing for a switch to digital payments, which now can be seen as a public health measure.

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