Vegas gamblers might qualify for unemployment under CARES Act

Nevada's professional gamblers have effectively lost access to their offices with the closure of casinos

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Nevada-based full-time professional gamblers could be eligible for unemployment benefits after losing their opportunity to work as a consequence of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Las Vega Review-Journal reported.

Much like the majority of states nationwide, Nevada is shut down, except for essential businesses, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Gov. Steve Sisolak has also closed casinos through at least April 30.

Jamie Gold (R) of California stares across at Paul Wasicka of Colorado as they play the final hand of the World Series of Poker main event on August 11, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The extended closure of casinos means these gamblers could now be eligible to collect the unemployment benefits, as they have effectively lost their ability to go to work for the time being.

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Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Rosa Mendez told the Review-Journal such professional workers could be classified as self-employed or independent contractors “during this unprecedented time and under the CARES Act.”

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About 22 million Americans, or one in seven workers, have applied for unemployment benefits in the past month alone.

The CARES – Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security – Act was signed by President Trump on March 27, but includes a stipulation that limits unemployment benefits to those who are unable to work remotely – or, in this case, those who are unable to gamble on the Internet or from home.

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Nonetheless, Jason Reed, an economist, finance professor and assistant chair at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, told MarketWatch he believed professional gamblers had a shot at being able to collect these benefits.

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“If they can show their primary method of earning cannot be made up through teleworking, playing online, I think they will be pretty successful,” he told the outlet. “This is what the CARES Act is designed to do, to catch all these people who would not have been caught with traditional unemployment insurance.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.