LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada business received more than $4 billion in loans under a federal rescue package designed to aid small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Data released by the U.S. Treasury Department this week showed more than 42,000 loans were issued to businesses in the Silver State, with some of the biggest benefactors including the state's hospitality industry, along with doctors, dentists, lawyers and car dealers, according to federal data.
Tourism and gambling, Nevada's biggest industries, have been hammered by the pandemic and helped push the state to a major budget crisis and one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
Restaurants, a key part of the hospitality industry, received more loans and more loan money than any industry in Nevada under the Paycheck Protection Program. Full-service restaurants received somewhere between between $138 million and $260 million in loans.
Casino resorts received somewhere between $42 million and $98 million in loans while non-hotel casinos received somewhere between $32 million and $72 million.
The biggest hotels and casinos approved for loans were RBG LLC, the owner of the Casablanca casino-resort in Mesquite, casino company NG Washington II and CCLV Luxury Hotel Holding LLC, the owner of the Waldorf Astoria on the Las Vegas Strip.
All were approved for loans between $5 million and $10 million each.
Other notable businesses approved for loans in Nevada’s hospitality and nightclub scene included several strip clubs.
Reno Men’s Club, Deja Vu Las Vegas, and the Floyd Mayweather-affiliated club Girl Collection were all approved for loans between $150,000 and $1 million.
Legal brothels, which along with strip clubs were ordered closed amid the pandemic, were not among the listed recipients provided by the federal government, which only named businesses that were approved for more than $150,000.
The Wild Horse Saloon, a restaurant attached to the Mustang Ranch brothel owned by Lance Gilman, was approved for a loan between $150,000 and $350,000. A Mound House, Nevada, entity called Asset Management Group LLC was approved for a loan between $150,000 and $350,000. State business records listed a trust belonging to late Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof and Hof's longtime madam and brothel manager Suzette Cole as managers.
Mark Wray, an attorney representing Asset Management Group, did not immediately have details Tuesday about whether the loan was approved for any brothels.
Nevada's governor was among at least nine across the country that has a tie to a company that received a loan under the program. A financial firm co-founded by Gov. Steve Sisolak's wife, Kathy Ong Sisolak, applied for and received a loan of about $62,000, according to Sisolak's campaign team. The campaign, in response to an inquiry from the AP, noted in a statement that loan program is administered by the “wholly independent of state government” and is administered by the U.S. government.
The Paycheck Protection Program is the centerpiece of the federal government’s plan to rescue an economy devastated by shutdowns and uncertainty. The program, which helps smaller businesses stay open and keep Americans employed during the pandemic, has been both popular and controversial.
Under the program, the government is backing $659 billion in low-interest loans written by banks. Taxpayer money will pay off the loans if borrowers use them on payroll, rent and similar expenses. Companies typically must have fewer than 500 workers to qualify.
The public may never know the identity of more than 80% of the nearly 5 million beneficiaries to date because the administration has refused to release details on loans under $150,000 -- the vast majority of borrowers. That secrecy spurred an open-records lawsuit by a group of news organizations, including The Associated Press.
Still, the release of the data is the most complete look at the program’s recipients so far.