/ Modified apr 27, 2020 10:35 a.m.

Rule makes small casinos eligible for Paycheck Protection Program

Lawmakers from Arizona are calling the SBA interim rule a win for some of the state's tribal casinos.

Small casinos that had to close due to the pandemic are now eligible to receive financial help through the Paycheck Protection Program. Several members of Congress are calling this a win for tribal casinos.

The U.S. Small Business Administration clarified that legal gaming businesses can qualify for the program in an interim final rule Friday.

The Navajo Nation's Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, the Hon-Dah Resort Casino belonging to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and the Cliff Castle Casino & Hotel on the Yavapai-Apache Nation are some of the tribal casinos in Arizona to benefit from the revised rule, according to a statement released by Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees that received more than half of their income from gaming were not originally thought to qualify for loans under the PPP, according to the Native American Finance Officers Association.

That excluded many small casinos owned by tribal governments.

The program, part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, gives small businesses forgivable loans if they meet certain conditions, like using the money to pay their employees.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally and Rep. Tom O’Halleran said they advocated for a change that treats tribal casinos like other small businesses.

"The federal government’s exclusion of gaming operations from critical coronavirus-relief funds was unacceptable," Sinema said. "I’m glad the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration did the right thing and are now allowing Tribal communities full access to the Paycheck Protection Program."

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