The America Gaming Association (AGA) released a report on Wednesday warning that the US economy could suffer $21.3 billion in economic losses if casinos remained closed for a period of eight weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Wednesday, the AGA estimated that more than 530,000 gaming industry employees were out of work, with almost all commercial casinos and a growing number of tribal casinos shuttered.
AGA Asks for Government Support During Crisis
The AGA report noted that about half of the jobs supported by gaming facilities are actually non-gaming jobs, such as those in associated restaurants and retail shops.
“In a matter of days, the US casino industry went from a growing, thriving segment of the US economy to a near standstill,” AGA CEO Bill Miller said in a statement. “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.”
As of Thursday, the number of closed casinos had only grown. The AGA estimated that 95 percent of commercial casinos and 76 percent of tribal casinos were closed, with about 616,000 gaming employees off the job because of the closures. In addition to the direct economic impact, the AGA says that casino closures could cost workers a large chunk of the $74 billion in annual wagers paid to employees. The association also noted that casino gaming generates $41 billion in tax and tribal revenue nationwide, while also supporting a significant number of other local businesses in and around gaming venues.
Casinos Take Backseat to Public Health Concerns
The AGA has been warning lawmakers and other industry groups of the coronavirus’ potential impact on the gaming industry.
“We have engaged and will continue to engage other industry associations as the implications of this evolving health crisis continue to affect our part of the broader hospitality industry,” Miller said in a statement released last week.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the gaming industry to take a back seat to public health concerns in recent days. On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all non-essential businesses to close for 30 days, a declaration that included casinos in Las Vegas and other cities.
Amidst those closures, however, some casinos have remained open despite government warnings. One of the most prominent examples is that of the Seminole Hard Rock Casinos in Florida, which have continued operations despite the growing number of coronavirus cases in the state.
As of Thursday evening, 14,205 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been identified in the United States, with the outbreak claiming 205 lives. Worldwide, officials have reported more than 244,000 cases, along with more than 10,000 deaths.