America’s casino industry is reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with casino closures leaving over 600,000 staff out of work.
On Thursday, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released an update on the mounting economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak, which has resulted in 95% of the nation’s 465 commercial casinos and 76% of tribal casinos having shut their doors either voluntarily or under the orders of state authorities.
AGA CEO Bill Miller said around 616k casino employees “are prevented from working because of the important health and safety decisions made by state governments.” Around 206k of these employees (used to) work in Nevada. Miller also claimed that “nearly 350k small business employees that rely on gaming for their livelihood” are facing dire straits.
The AGA offered a litany of numbers to illustrate the plight of these employees, some of whom have been given greater assurances of support from their employers than others. The AGA says casino staff earn a combined $74b in annual wages, while casino operations generate $41b in annual tax revenue and tribal revenue sharing.
The AGA emphasized that money generated both directly and indirectly through casino operations provides “essential support for local hospitals, first responders and vital public services,” so the longer this situation goes on, the less capable the system that is trying to mitigate the fallout will become.
For the second time this week, Miller urged the federal government to “act swiftly and comprehensively” to get these affected individuals back to work. Miller doesn’t actually expect the government to snap its fingers and make the virus history, but he does want to see the government include the casino industry in any virus-related financial stimulus package.
While Congress continues to play coy with which industries will get what out of its viral bailouts, the AGA is hoping for a better result than the UK retail betting industry, which learned Thursday that it’s ineligible for the government’s plan to exempt retail and hospitality businesses from paying business rates for a year.
Bottom feeding investors piled into US casino stocks with a vengeance on Thursday after the companies endured a truly horrific start to the week. Boyd Gaming shot up 43% on Thursday, Caesars Entertainment gained 42.6%, and Penn National Gaming was up 34.7%. Smaller gains were enjoyed by Eldorado Resorts (+9.4%), Las Vegas Sands (+7.1%), MGM Resorts (+7.8%) and Wynn Resorts (+8.3%).