The past few months have been an odd time for the casino industry in the US. Venues shut down back in March when the COVID-19 pandemic began. They started to reopen in May and June, and in the months beyond, with protocols in place to keep players and employees safe. This included more cleaning and mask wearing. Facilities are reopened at a lower capacity which means less business. As venues were shut down for months, they were earning nothing and are earning less than normal revenues now. The industry was hoping for federal aid, but that does not seem to be likely in the near future, or at least until after the presidential election.
Aid Not Coming Now
Chris Cylk is a government relations official for the American Gaming Association who recently talked to the Las Vegas Sun about the potential for the gaming industry to receive federal help. He said that election politics have more than likely stopped any chance for additional federal relief to be provided to the industry at this time.
According to Cylke, there has been an expectation that another package would come along after the CARES Act, but it has not. The view is that something needs to be done but Cylke says there are ‘fractured views’ in Congress.
The White House is said to be increasing its offer to negotiate aid, but the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that it is unlikely a deal will be made before the election takes place. People familiar with the offer say the latest is $1.8 million from the GOP but the Democrats want more at $2.2 trillion.
Right now, the Senate is also dealing with the confirmation hearing of the Supreme Court nominee made by Trump, so that is taking up time as well.
Trying to Gain Ground
Many of the major gaming companies were left without help when federal assistance programs were approved. Smaller casino operations were eligible for programs that provided payroll and basic expense needs, but those funds were only provided for a short time.
Larger companies were able to use the CARES Act and take advantage of tax breaks. Companies like Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, have not talked about the issue or are not commenting at this time. We have seen these companies furlough employees due to limited operations.
The Nevada Resort Association continues to report that federal help is needed for the industry. The talk about how Nevada is one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic as many residents are still without work as businesses dependent on tourism are fighting to hang on to their operations. There has also been a big decline in state revenues due to lack of operations.
It seems for now, the businesses as well as employees will have to just try to hang on a little bit longer. Hopefully, the industry can pick back up soon or there will be some type of change by the federal government to see help provided to operators in the gaming industry.