Assessing the Potential Impact of COVID-19 on the IMI

ResearchAssessing the Potential Impact of COVID-19 on the IMI

We assess the COVID-19 crisis will severely impact illicit massage business (IMB) operations in the short-to-medium term, particularly in states which ordered the closure of non-essential businesses. The potential long-term effects on the illicit massage industry (IMI) remain unclear given uncertainty surrounding the longevity and intensity of these closures, as well as potential challenges faced by state and local officials in fully enforcing these restrictions.

Illicit Massage Industry

We assess some IMBs will defy state-directed mandates and remain open, while others may re-direct IMB operations to apartment and hotel brothels, although such moves will likely be limited to IMB networks with existing brothel footprints. Prior to a resumption of normal business operations around the country, we judge that some IMB owners may seek to take advantage of federal and state level assistance programs for distressed small businesses, to include potentially applying for unemployment benefits. Given competing resource demands and wide-spread court closures, we further posit that many law enforcement (LE) partners will be unable to conduct IMB-related investigations for several months, thus impacting traditional IMB disruption efforts.