With less than one month until the new legislative session, gambling expansion proponents and opponents in Georgia are already working towards defending their positions. It was just a few weeks ago that a study committee, that was specially appointed, met three different times to discuss all areas of a potential gambling expansion, including the advantages and disadvantages. Matt Ramsey, the chairman of the committee, stated that no decision would be made before January begins, which is when the new session of legislation starts.
The delay in solving the issue has not stopped those who are interested in an expansion from outlining plans to create casino resorts in Georgia. The first panel meeting saw the MGM chairman, Jim Murren, hinting at the company being interested in creating a casino resort which would feature entertainment and gambling facilities.
There are currently 14 lobbyists that are committed to defending the interests of the company but MGM will have to face many opponents who also have lobbyists before they could gain any traction in the state. Penn National Gaming as well as Boyd Gaming Corp also seem interested in offering gaming in the state.
Opponents are being relentless in their pursuit to stop any expansion of gambling in the state. Flyers have been sent out to warn residents about the gambling expansion and what they believe will come along with it, including corruption, crime and addiction.
For now, the Georgia gambling market will remain the same and be limited to the lottery only. Any previous attempt to legalize casino gambling and horse racing have failed to move forward. Gamblers have to travel to other states to enjoy gambling that is provided by Indian tribes.
If casinos were established in the state, it would be beneficial to the merit-based HOPE scholarship program. A proposal by Representative Ron Stephen’s would offer two casinos in the state, along the metro Atlanta area. There would also be four more added near the state borders. The goal is to limit the number of players from Georgia to visit neighboring states and keep the money within the state. Casinos in Georgia would pay a 12% gross gambling revenue with educational programs earning as much as 90% of the total revenues.
There could be a negative impact to the gambling expansion, with the state-run lottery revenues possibly struggling. Governor Nathan Deal has announced he would reconsider his stance on gambling if a higher tax rate was put in place.