Montana Official Demands Small Businesses with Gaming Revenue Get COVID-19 Federal Loans

Posted on: April 11, 2020, 08:46h. 

Last updated on: April 12, 2020, 10:35h.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is challenging a rule which prevents thousands of US businesses with gambling revenue from receiving the Small Business Administration (SBA) coronavirus relief loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox wants small businesses that get revenue from gambling to be able to apply for a new payroll relief program during the coronavirus outbreak. (Image: Thom Bridge/Helena Independent Record)

In Montana alone, the restrictions keep 1,324 small operations with gambling revenue from getting the money. About 15,000 workers in the state associated with the sector have been unable to work since a closure last month.

The funds are part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It was approved last month.

Under the guidelines, no small business that gets more than a third of its revenue from gambling can receive benefits from the Paycheck Protection Program. The program made available about $350 billion in loans for businesses impacted by COVID-19 closures.

The loans let the businesses continue to pay workers during the shutdown. Montana’s bars, pubs, wineries, and casinos were shuttered last month.

I have also been advised that large Nevada casinos were able to secure rule-making that made their businesses in Nevada eligible for CARES Act relief programs,” Fox said in an April 3 letter to the SBA. “If it is true, I am sure that the SBA will understand widespread belief that creating such a disparity in the rules to favor large casinos over small Main-Street businesses is both unfair and unconscionable during these trying times.”

Fox has also contacted the White House about his concerns. Fox is both a Republican candidate for Montana governor and president of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Casinos Key to Montana’s Economy

“Restaurants, bars, taverns, and casinos are the economic foundation of many communities in our state,” Fox added in the letter. “They not only contribute substantially to our economy, but they also meaningfully contribute to their communities in additional ways.”

Fox also pointed out in his letter that Montana businesses with gambling revenues are required to “undergo a rigorous review and background check before their liquor and gambling licenses can be issued. The owners and investors in these businesses are law-abiding, hardworking, and industrious.”

“As much as any small business, Montana businesses with gambling revenues deserve to be able to count on the United States government to be there for them in this time of crisis,” Fox added. “I reiterate the request that I made last week that the SBA revise its rules to make otherwise qualifying small businesses with gambling revenues eligible for CARES Act…. To do anything less would be unwise, unfair, and unconscionable.”

Six Montana Residents Succumb to COVID-19

On Friday, Montana saw 354 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Thirty-six patients were hospitalized by the virus.

Six people in the state died from the illness since the outbreak began.

Earlier this year, sports betting licenses came to Montana. But, like much of the nation, basically athletic wagering is on hold while the US shuts down sports events.

As of February, 142 businesses across Montana acquired sports betting licenses. Additional steps were needed before they can take action from gamblers.

The initial proposal by the Montana Lottery and Sports Wagering Commission showed that as many as 1,400 locations across the Big Sky State could be eligible to accept sports bets.