G2E 2020 Takes a Look at the Industry Impact from COVID-19
The annual G2E conference has gone virtual for 2020 with insight provided on how the gaming industry in the US has been affected by COVID-19.
Over the past few months, every business industry in the United States has tried to come to grips with this new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. For the gambling industry, relief is needed. Casinos in the US are hoping to see both tax and regulatory relief provided by the government as operators try to recover from the outbreak. When casinos were shut down for several months this year, over $2 billion in tax revenues were lost.
About 90% of the casinos in the US have reopened, but they are operating at lower levels of capacity due to the need to slow the spread of the virus. Financial help is needed for both operators and employees. During the recent G2E 2020 conference, American Gaming Association President Bill Miller pointed out in his State of the Casinos speech that while the industry is coming back, help is still needed.
Operating Alongside COVID-19
The G2E conference is virtual this year due to the pandemic. During his speech yesterday, Miller pointed out that the industry has never seen a disruption like what was caused by the pandemic. In a two week period back in March, every casino in the nation was closed due to mandated shutdowns. This impacted 1.8 million employment positions.
Employees in the gaming industry, their families and small businesses that depend on the industry were hit hard. States and communities are feeling the strain too due to lack of funds. State budgets have been cut dramatically, especially if they rely on funds from casinos to get by.
An example can be seen in Detroit. The city lost $600,000 in gambling tax revenues each day the casinos were shut down. For Pennsylvania, a whopping $323 million was lost. State by state, millions in revenues are gone due to nonexistent operations.
The commercial casino industry in the United States earned $43.6 billion last year. This number is certainly to decline in 2020 due to closures related to the virus.
The casino industry was able to receive relief funds provided by the government due to the pandemic, approved by Congress earlier in the year. However, it was not enough. The industry wants to be included in any aid packages in the future as they are vital to the survival of many cities and communities across the nation.
The casinos would like to receive liability protection so that as they follow public health guidelines, they will not be sued by individuals who contract the virus. The industry would also like to be provided tax relief to help save employment positions as well as get rid of expenses associated with the virus plus boost consumer travel.
Casinos are also requesting that they be allowed to offer digital payment solutions. This has been a change that casinos have wanted for quite some time but have been unable to be approved for. Operators are now arguing that the change would be a benefit to the public health as there would be no need to handle cash or change between customers and employees.
Many consumers are not taking part in casino gaming due to the fear of catching the virus. Operators see the digital payments as a way to bring in tourism again, especially among players who are hesitant to use cash.
It will be interesting to see if any more relief is provided in the US, for the casino industry and just everyday people in general. Right now, the Senate was adjourned by Mitch McConnel until November 9th without a new stimulus package. It will still be some yet before we see if any relief will be provided at all by government leaders as the pandemic continues to rage on.