Casino gaming has been a hot topic in the state of Georgia as of late and Augusta is currently being considered as a location if the option becomes legal. In the state, casino gambling is not allowed and legislation would have to be proposed and passed before players would have access to a gaming venue. The gaming industry has recently stepped up their efforts to lobby within the state capital in the hopes of seeing casinos added in the state.
The Georgia Municipal Association has been seeking additional ways in which to ensure that revenues from casino gaming is provided to local governments. Michael McPherson is a government relations association within the Georgia Municipal Association who stated that several lobbyists have been hired, around 67 individuals, for gaming organizations.
On Thursday, legislators of the state as well as members of the Augusta Commission met to discuss the potential for the city to become the home of a regional casino. The Commissioner, Marion Williams, stated that he would like to see money generated come to the city and if the city does not become a gambling destination, players will leave the city and go to one.
A gambling bill was seen last session that divided Georgia into regions and Atlanta and Augusta were in the same region, the north of the state, for the possible creation of two casinos. A gaming study committee was created, with Senator Harold Jones involved, who stated that the approach will help to ensure that no area in the state is oversaturated. That Savannah and Atlanta areas are being considered for destination gaming venues while Augusta could be a regional casino location. MGM Resorts has showed interest in creating a casino gaming venue in the Atlanta area.
Most legislators seem to be on board with bringing major casino gaming to the state. Wayne Howard is the Delegation Chairman Representative who stated that the group is in support of the change for casino gaming and does not feel any trouble will be present with the location delegation being in opposition of anything that can be done to attract the type of gaming options being discussed.
Andrew Jefferson is the Commissioner-elect who will be moving into office beginning in 2017 who is also in support of the change. Jefferson feels that with casino gaming done in moderation, it could be a great source of revenue for the state.
Augusta is in need of revenues that casino gaming would be able to easily provide. During the meeting, Janice Allen Jackson, the City Administrator, was able to present a 2017 budget proposal which showed that there is a decline in Local Option Sales Tax revenues, money that is used to offset property taxes and a reason behind a revenue shortfall for the city.
It is believed that collections are down due to the city schools as well as Richmond County schools having to reimburse monies due to an aircraft maintenance company overpaying taxes for several years. Due to Standard Aero’s overpayments, the state decided to withhold disbursements of the school to reimburse them. With casino gaming in place, there would be money so this type of situation does not happen again.