- An American Gaming Association official said the gaming industry should only expect a federal COVID-19 relief package after the election.
- Chris Cylke said the Congress is divided over the matter even though the prevailing view is that the industry should get the relief.
- MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and other major casinos on the Strip declined to comment on the matter or deferred it to the Nevada Resorts Association.
- The association President and CEO expressed the need for the gaming industry to get the aid.
A senior government relations official for the American Gaming Association said the casino industry shouldn’t expect a federal COVID-19 relief package before the presidential election.
Election politics have probably ruined the opportunity for the extra relief funds that could help the industry, said Chris Cylke. He said that while the prevailing view has been that something is done, Congress is divided over the matter.
Although the White House is reportedly increasing its offer in COVID-19 aid negotiations, Senate Majority Leader and Kentucky Representative Mitch McConnell said an agreement is unlikely before the election.
A GOP aide who knows the newest offer said it is approximately $1.8 trillion, while Democrats hoped to get $2.2 trillion, according to the Associated Press.
McConnell said that the priority of the Senate is confirming the president’s nominee to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
Cylke said he is hopeful that a breakthrough and quick action would happen, but not until the election is over.
While smaller casino companies were eligible for the previous federal assistance programs to cover payroll and other basic outlays for a limited time, major ones were not beneficiaries. Nevertheless, larger companies were eligible to leverage certain tax breaks related to the CARES Act.
When reached for comment, the Strip’s largest casinos, including MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts either didn’t respond at all or deferred the matter to the Nevada Resort Association.
Nevada Resort Association President and CEO Virginia Valentine said the state is one of the hardest hit “by the pandemic, with too many Nevadans still out of work, tourism-dependent businesses fighting to survive, and massive declines in state revenues.”
She said the Congress needs to act quickly “to pass additional emergency relief to help furloughed or laid-off employees, impacted businesses, and state and local governments” and stop further economic havoc.
Valentine said that in case the industry does not get help, then more job losses and cuts to crucial government services could be coming soon.
Since the statewide shutdown of casinos in mid-March until June due to COVID-19, the gaming industry has suffered devastation. Revenue and visitation have dramatically dropped across the resorts in Nevada, with some yet to reopen. Unemployment has skyrocketed following the laying off of thousands of workers.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board revealed that gaming revenue dropped by at least 22% in August compared to the same time last year. Las Vegas visitation reduced by at least 57%, with hotel occupancy coming down to 42% from 87% in August 2019, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority disclosed.