Tribal casinos across the country are shutting down temporarily to prevent the spread of coronavirus. NIGA, helmed by Ernie Stevens, Jr. (pictured), seeks $18 billion in federal aid to support Tribal economies and employees.
The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives requesting $18 billion for Tribal gaming, as properties nationwide temporarily close their doors while continuing to pay employees their wages.
Tribal casinos employ more than 700,000 people across 460 venues, generating in excess of $37 billion in 2017, comprising the largest segment of the U.S. gaming industry.
Federal aid of about 2 percent — equivalent to the U.S. Native American population — of the $850 billion economic stimulus package proposed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday could help Tribes offset the loss of casino revenues amidst the coronavirus criss.
“Providing the means for Tribal governments to continue paying all employees’ salaries and benefits will immensely help this country recover,” according to the letter addressed to Representatives Deb Haaland and Tom Cole of the House Native American Caucus, as reported by Reuters.
The Association representing 184 Tribes additionally proposed Congress suspend interest rate accrual on all loans to Tribal governments and their entities.
While NIGA fights for Tribal gaming support, the gaming industry at large is likewise advocating for economic relief.
Bill Miller, American Gaming Association (AGA) CEO, articulated on Monday: “In a matter of days, the U.S. casino industry went from a growing, thriving segment of the U.S. economy to a near standstill.”
Miller argues the $260 billion gaming industry needs a cash bailout or additional funds to keep casinos afloat and to pay casino employees their wages during this time.