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American Gaming Association: 1.8 Million Casino Jobs In Jeopardy

Group Claims That Without Tweaks To Federal Programs, Many Will Lose Jobs And Benefits

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With the entire American casino industry shut down for the last three weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, casino workers are hitting the unemployment line in droves.

In response to this trend, the American Gaming Association penned a letter to President Trump asking for his administration to get involved and use federal tax money to help gaming companies keep its workers on the payroll.

“We share your overriding interest in employees retaining their jobs so they can get back to work quickly once this situation has subsided,” said AGA CEO Bill Miller in the letter. “Individuals who are laid off will otherwise be pushed into unemployment assistance and Medicaid.”

According to Miller, there are 1.8 million people working in the gaming industry that are at risk of losing jobs and the benefits related to their employment status unless the federal government steps in.

Ultimately, the AGA is asking the administration to alter requirements in the Paycheck Protection Program’s interim rules established by the Small Business Administration. These rules do not allow gaming companies to receive loan assistance that would help keep employees on salary.

Other casino lobbyists began asking Congress for federal bailout money at the start of the casino shutdowns.

The latest jobless claims report released Thursday morning said that another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. It brings the total of unemployed Americans seeking assistance to an overwhelming all-time high of nearly 17 million.

Caesars Entertainment announced last week that it would be furloughing 90 percent of its nationwide workforce. The gaming giant owns 53 properties in 14 states. None of which are currently open for business.

Caesars employees will be eligible to use two weeks of paid vacation after their final two weeks of salary runs out. They will also keep their health benefits through June 30.

“Given the closure of our properties, we are taking difficult but necessary steps to protect the company’s financial position and its ability to recover when circumstances allow us to reopen and being welcoming our guests and employees back to our properties,” said CEO Tony Rodio in a statement. “The company entered this crisis with strong operating performance, which, combined with the steps we are taking now, are critical to the future of our company.”

Its competitors are also laying off massive amounts of workers. MGM Resorts furloughed 60,000 of its 69,000 employees, according to acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle, while Boyd Gaming, owners of eight off-strip casinos and 21 additional properties nationwide, announced that it would furlough “most” of its 25,000-person workforce last Saturday.

Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands will both continue to pay its employees for two months. For tipped employees at Wynn properties, they will receive pay that includes the average amount earned through gratuity.

Both companies have most of its American properties on the Las Vegas Strip, which will be closed through at least the end of the month after Gov. Steve Sisolak extended his 30-day shutdown to last until at least May 1.

Operators in Europe are also letting go of workers as the French gaming company Partouche group furloughed 95 percent of its staff.