Senate Bill 79 was set to be voted upon in the Regulated Industries Committee Thursday but that vote was cancelled suddenly, leaving the casino legislation at a standstill, at least for now. The bill, authored by Senator Brandon Beach, would create a path for voters in the state of Georgia to decide if casino gambling should be a legalized activity.
Beach remains confident that his bill can be revived, with the Senator hoping for a vote to take place within the committee on Monday. According to a report at the Ledger-Enquirer.com, Beach has already asked to be on the agenda for Monday and this will give him time to ‘shore up the votes’.
Beach must see a vote take place for Senate Bill 79 to be passed on the Senate side and then be reviewed by the House. For the bill to be able to pass this session it must reach the House by March 3rd. Beach has stressed that the bill just has to get out of committee as there is more support in the House for casino gaming.
Senator Ed Harbison is on the Regulated Industries Committee who stated that if the bill were to come to a vote, he would vote to move it forward. Harbison stated he feels it is his obligation to give the people the ability to vote on casino gaming.
Beach has made several changes to the bill as of late in order to gain additional support. A recent change included a percentage of the annual gaming taxes going towards rural trauma care and health care. Around $84 million would be provided annually for the rural areas health care needs as well as around $15 million for broadband technology to move into rural communities.
Casino gambling still has a long way to go if it is to be legalized in the state of Georgia. The bill by Beach would have to pass within the General Assembly and be signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal. The public would then have to vote yes via a statewide referendum and then pass in local jurisdictions where casino licenses are awarded before becoming law.