BP Oil Spill Compensation Fund Administrator Changes Tune on Casino Workers’ Claims

The Gulf Coast Claim Facility (GCCF), the agency processing BP oil spill compensation claims, has decided to take another look at claims filed by casino employees. According to a report from the Sun Herald, the GCCF has been denying emergency claims filed by people employed by Gulf Coast casinos.

Over the summer, BP agreed to set aside at least $20 billion to pay economic loss and physical damage claims stemming from the BP oil spill. Kenneth Feinberg, who had previously administered the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund, was tapped to oversee the BP fund. Businesses, individuals and government entities who suffered economic losses or physical injury as a result of the BP oil spill were eligible to file two types of claims: Emergency Advance Payments and long-term final damage claims.

While the deadline for emergency payments has passed, the GCCF is considering interim, or quarterly, claims and final claims payments, the Sun Herald said. Like emergency claims, interim claims are for losses already suffered. Claimants do not waive any right to sue by accepting them.

According to the Sun Herald, many casino workers emergency payment claims were denied by the GCCF because casino revenue generally was up during the BP oil spill. Feinberg also said in the past that he did not believe casinos rely as heavily on Gulf of Mexico tourism for business as other industries do.

But the denials of casino workers’ claims created an uproar. Many pointed out that those claimants with similar jobs in non-casino establishments had their claims accepted by the GCCF. Casino workers’ and their advocates also argued that tips for casino employees do not actually track with casino revenue, and that day-trippers and BP cleanup workers who tipped poorly replaced casinos’ customary clientele during the spill, the Sun Herald said.

Mississippi State Rep. Bobby Moak was among those who took up the casino workers’ cause. He told the Sun Herald that GCCF’s liaison to the casinos has promised that the agency was “now going to go back and look at the claims in a different light.”

Feinberg’s public relations firm also passed on the following comment from Feinberg to the Sun Herald: “We are glad to consider casino workers’ claims. As we have said all along, casino workers are eligible, but they need to document their damages. We will work with the casino workers to fill out their documentation in order to show their economic harm.”

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