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Congress | Coronavirus | Government

Trump administration allows small casinos to tap SBA emergency loan program

U.S. Treasury Building Washington D.C.

Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation celebrated the White House’s decision today to allow small casinos to access a Small Business Administration emergency loan program.

“We are glad to see that our calls for reform were answered and this much-needed step is being taken to provide gaming small businesses in Nevada and across the country access to financial support and aid during this difficult time,” said Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto in a joint release.

Rep. Steven Horsford said on Twitter that he was “thrilled” that the delegation has won its fight with the SBA and Treasury Department.

“The SBA was wrong to discriminate against these businesses in the first place and I’m glad they agreed to change their position after hearing from the entire Nevada delegation,” Horsford said in a statement from his office.

Gov. Steve Sisolak called the White House's move "a great step forward for our gaming small businesses. I am proud that the Nevada delegation worked hard to secure this aid for our Silver State!"

Prior to the announcement, the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program precluded businesses that received more than half of their revenue from gambling. That’s after relaxing the initial PPP rule, which prevented businesses from accessing PPP loans if they received more than 33 percent of revenue from gaming.  

Under the new PPP guidance from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza that provision would no longer apply.

“A business that is otherwise eligible for a PPP Loan is not rendered ineligible due to its receipt of legal gaming revenues, and 13 CFR 120.110(g) is inapplicable to PPP loans,” the new guidance said. “On further consideration, the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary, believes this approach is more consistent with the policy aim of making PPP loans available to a broad segment of U.S. businesses.” 

The announcement, which a day after Congress approved $321 billion to replenish the PPP, was also praised by the American Gaming Association.

“In the nearly one month since the CARES Act was enacted to provide economic relief to blunt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Gaming Association and our allies have fought tirelessly to correct the Small Business Administration’s antiquated policy that precluded gaming companies from qualifying for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in a release. “We are pleased that the new regulatory guidelines released today make small gaming companies eligible for this critical program just as Congress has replenished its funding.”

Launched April 3, PPP was designed to help small businesses, with fewer than 500 employees, ride out measures taken by governors to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Those measures in Nevada include closing nonessential businesses.

Part of the appeal of the program is that loans used to pay certain expenses, such as keeping workers in place or to pay mortgage interest, rent and utilities, do not have to be repaid.

Disclosure: The Nevada Independent was approved for a PPP loan.

This story was updated at 9:02 a.m. to include a comment from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

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