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US – AGA says eight week casino closure would cost economy $43.5bn

By - 18 March 2020

American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller has urged ‘elected leaders to support the workers and businesses,’ in light of the closures due to the attempts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“An estimated 616,000 casino gaming employees are prevented from working because of the important health and safety decisions made by state governments. Nearly all (95 per cent) of the country’s 465 commercial casinos, and three-in-four (76 per cent) of the country’s 524 tribal casinos, have shuttered their doors,” he said. “The impact on our employees, their families, and communities is staggering, and the implications extend far beyond the casino floor. Leading technology companies that supply the industry, and the nearly 350,000 small business employees that rely on gaming for their livelihood, are also feeling the devastating blow of this unprecedented public health crisis.

“The federal government must act swiftly and comprehensively to get America’s hospitality employees, and the small businesses that support them, back to work. Gaming employees, their families, and communities are bearing the brunt of this economic standstill and will continue to suffer if Congress and the administration don’t take immediate action.

“In total, these mass closures will rob the US economy of $43.5bn in economic activity if American casinos remain closed for the next eight weeks,” he added. “Gaming is an economic engine, employing millions of local residents, generating community investment through vital tax revenue, and supporting small businesses in communities all across the country.”

Casino closures risk nearly $74bn in total wages annually for workers and their families. Casino gaming supports $41bn in annual tax revenue and tribal revenue sharing nationwide – essential support for local hospitals, first responders, and vital public services. Half the jobs our industry supports are at non-gaming businesses such as restaurants and local shops – all will be dramatically affected by a local casino’s closure. Casino gaming is vital to local small businesses, delivering $52 billion annually in small business revenue, including construction, manufacturing, retail, and wholesale firms.

“In a matter of days, the US casino industry went from a growing, thriving segment of the US economy to a near standstill. We are witnessing a rapidly increasing number of our nation’s commercial and tribal casinos that have been shuttered, impacting 60 per cent of all casino employees. This will have a dire effect on the communities in which we operate across 43 states,” Mr Miller added. “As state governments close casinos as a part of the urgent public health response to COVID-19, elected leaders should move just as urgently to support the workers and businesses who will bear the brunt of those effects. Our immediate priorities are actions that provide liquidity to allow us to support employees.

“Gaming is a resilient industry. As leading hospitality companies, we’re employers, supporters of small businesses, and economic engines,” he added. “Once we’re through this crisis, we are committed to working with government leaders to play a critical role in reinvigorating communities across the country.”

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