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Casinos and airlines are sending lobbyists to Congress en masse to beg for billions of dollars in bailout funds, and hoping for comprehensive “bailout packages” they believe they need to save their industries.
Airlines are seeking a reportedly seeking an astounding $60 billion in direct handouts from the United States government to cover for losses incurred as a result of coronavirus-related travel shutdowns and “shelter in place” restrictions keeping Americans largely homebound.
In contrast, after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the airlines were given only a $15 billion bailout, according to Politico.
“On Monday, Airlines for America, the trade group for the U.S. airline industry, came forward with specific requests — including $29 billion in direct assistance,” the outlet reported Tuesday. “In addition, A4A asked for $29 billion in loans or loan guarantees, a rebate for some federal excise taxes collected from the beginning of the year through the end of March and a repeal of certain excise taxes through the end of 2021.”
“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,” A4A said in a statement released to media. “Our immediate priorities are actions that provide liquidity to allow us to support employees.”
In addition, “60 of the world’s air carriers” are asking for immediate supplemental support. An industry bailout, they say, is just the second step — financial assistance is needed now, as is tax relief. Most of the airlines’ tax burden is passed along to customers who pay it through ticket fees, and if consumers aren’t buying airline tickets, they aren’t paying airline taxes and fees.
Of course, that’s just the airlines themselves. Airports, which are mostly ghost towns this week as cities and towns call time on social contact, are also requesting $10 billion to help them make up for lost business. Cruise lines and hotel companies are also expected to ask for help; cruises are suffering over concerns that passengers could become trapped aboard if a traveler tests positive for coronavirus and hotel rooms are sitting empty across the world.
Afraid of being left out of the Federal calculus, casino companies unleashed an army of lobbyists on Washington this week as well after several companies, including MGM Resorts International and Wynn Entertainment made the difficult decision to shutter their properties on the Las Vegas strip.
“In a statement Monday, the American Gaming Association said its $260 billion industry was at a ‘near standstill’ and said the assistance would allow it to ‘support’ its 1.8 million employees—some of them low-wage workers,” the Washington Post said Tuesday.
“A representative of Wynn Resorts, owned by Trump ally and donor Steve Wynn, has reportedly pushed to receive cash directly from the government. A Wynn Resorts spokesperson has not spoken publicly on the matter,” the outlet added.
A handful of casinos are still operating in Las Vegas, though many have made dramatic changes to things like food service and housekeeping. Buffets are now closed, shows have gone dark, and many of the city’s “mega-clubs” are on hiatus until the coronavirus panic blows over.