Deadwood casino operators hoping for emergency payroll loans from Congress have received some bad news: They’re not eligible, at least for now.
Tribal casinos are also affected. U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., is working on the problem. He’s asking the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Treasury to change their interim ruling on the situation.
"We think they’ve made a mistake, and we’re expecting that they’ll reconsider their decision,” Rounds said.
If the ruling doesn’t change, Rounds said he’ll pursue a fix in the next big congressional coronavirus bill, whenever that comes together.
Congress recently passed a $2 trillion economic rescue package. It includes a $350 billion pot of money called the Payroll Protection Program. The program is offering forgivable loans through banks to small businesses and nonprofits that use most of the money to keep or rehire employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
But there are pre-existing laws and policies that prohibit the Small Business Administration from lending to businesses that get more than a third of their revenue from gambling. That includes Deadwood’s casinos, which are temporarily closed because of the coronavirus.
Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, said many of the 1,200 people in Deadwood who work in the gambling industry are out of work, and much of the industry’s $900,000 weekly payroll is going unpaid.
“We want to keep these people on the payroll. There’s a lot of talent. You know, we want to keep them, and we want to be able to -- as quickly as we’re able to -- reopen, charge back and be open and take care of our customers.”